Because this production of Romeo and Juliet
features a full-cast performance, original music, and sound effects, it could accurately be described as an audio play. This tragic tale of the world's most famous star-crossed couple was originally written to be seen, but the genius of Shakespeare's language is stunningly beautiful to the naked ear as well. When Romeo spies Juliet across a crowded dance floor, he speaks aloud what may be the perfect description of love at first sight: "If my heart e'r loved till now, forswear it sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." Although you can't see who has so smitten the dear boy, the Juliet you visualize in your mind's eye is far more sublime than any mere mortal could ever hope to be. If there is a disappointment to this production, it is, ironically, the sound itself. At times the actors' overlapping voices are difficult to distinguish, especially for those unfamiliar with Elizabethan vernacular. The music is generally quite good and adds a beneficial element that too few audiocassettes bother to include, but is at times perfunctory and a little too loud. The excellent cast is made up of established members of England's professional theater community, and their performances meet the expectations one would have for such a well-trained and respected group. (Running time: three hours, two cassettes) --George Laney
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The two leads excel in this new recording of Shakespeare's early play. Joseph Fiennes captures Romeo's tenderness, immaturity, and idealism, and he maintains his energy throughout. Maria Miles, as Juliet, makes a memorable and intelligent impression in virtually every scene she has. Her desperate soliloquy in Act Four, considering the possible consequences of taking the deathlike sleeping potion given to her by the Friar, is a gem: She is fearful and determined, independent and frail. Clive Brill's direction sometimes calls for overlapping dialogue, which makes for an effective brisk pace. The close microphone on Juliet for her lines about Romeo's death ("Take him and cut him out in little stars . . .") gives the poetry a powerful intimacy. A superior production. G.H. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine