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Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the most famous of Shakespeare's plays and is thought to be the most famous love story in Western history. It concerns the fate of two very young lovers who would do anything to be together.
The Montagues and the Capulets of Verona, Italy, are in the midst of a long-standing feud when Romeo Montague drops in on a masquerade party at the Capulets'. While there he meets and woos the daughter of the house, Juliet. She likewise returns his passion, and their secret meeting later that night on her bedroom balcony begins a series of tragic events that no one could have foretold.
Adults looking for a dramatically abridged version of Shakespeare's tragic love story with some lovely backdrops of Verona may find something to savor in Early's (Sleeping Beauty; William Tell) picture-book rendition. She gives a nod to several medieval fresco artists and to such Renaissance painters as Michelangelo and Botticelli, whose ornate patterns and borders may well be the inspiration for her paintings. A sharp attention to detail-- including the exquisite geometric designs of palace floors, elaborate period dress, authentic Verona streetscapes and the delicate strands of Juliet's golden tresses--distinguishes Early's art, but the lovers' faces are mask-like, and even the most dramatic of scenes appear to be static. Early's narrative paraphrases the action of this drama while showcasing some of the most legendary lines from the Bard's quill. But these clunky juxtapositions detract from Shakespeare's own words, as in this example: "Lord Capulet replied that Juliet was too young . Why not wait a little longer? `Let two more summers wither in their pride ere we may think her ripe to be a bride,' he entreated." Children will be better off waiting for the original--and adults better off returning to it. All ages.