"Romeo and Juliet" is a tragic play written early in the career of William Shakespeare about two teenage "star-cross'd lovers" whose untimely deaths ultimately unite their feuding households. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal "young lovers"
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers are brought to life in this full-cast production with sound effects and a musical score. Based on a performance at the 2012 Oregon Shakespeare Festival, this adaptation of the classic play is set in California in the 1840s. It skillfully blends regional accents and expressions into the script, making the dialogue suit the setting. The ensemble cast delivers an expert performance, ably capturing characters and their moods and intentions with nothing but shifts in tone, emphasis, and cadence. Still more impressive, the actors deliver lines in ways that make their meanings clear to listeners even those who have trouble understanding Shakespeare.