Actors From the London Stage perform “Romeo & Juliet”

Kelley Peters, News Editor

During their spring 2023 tour of universities around the United States, the Actors From The London Stage made a stop at the University of North Alabama, teaching classes and workshops during the week and then executing two exciting performances of Romeo and Juliet over the weekend. 

The Actors From The London Stage is a group of five British Shakespearean actors based in London and at the University of Notre Dame. They go on two tours a year, staying for a week at each university they visit in order to give students and faculty a chance to meet the talented actors and learn more about acting and literature. 

The performances took place at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24 and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, giving fans two opportunities to catch a showing. 

The Actors From The London Stage’s approach is simplicity. Having only five actors means that each actor must play multiple parts. In addition to this, the group is limited in the number of costumes and props they are allowed to use, resulting in creative efforts to make the scenes and characters come to life. The actors use a hat here, a jacket there, or even a seemingly random scrap of fabric to add personality and flair to their performances. 

The actors’ rendition of Romeo and Juliet was marvelous. For a tragedy, the play began with a remarkable amount of comedy, squeezing out every last drop before the cataclysmic end. It takes a lot to have an audience laughing in the first half and crying in the second, but the group went above and beyond to convey the feelings of love and loss. 

Every word was made to count. The actors’ emphasis on each syllable placed audience members in the characters’ shoes, portraying every emotion brilliantly. Each actor took on the characters they portrayed with dedication, crafting their interpersonal relationships with one another masterfully. The costumes also aided in showing the characters’ depth and emotion, though at times the rapid changes between characters was hilarious. 

Because of the actors’ skills, it was easy to feel as if the audience knew the characters, sometimes up-close and personal, as Romeo made multiple trips out into the crowd. Once, when he spoke to Juliet on her balcony, he even came and sat next to me, telling me of her beauty as if I was a close friend he could confide in.

Throughout the entire play, the actors used the color red to symbolize the characters’ passion. Roses made from red cloth were scattered across the stage, occasionally used by an actor to show beauty or love. Contrarily, red sashes pulled from belt loops represented swords or daggers, brought out in moments of rage. Juliet kept a large piece of red fabric with her, hiding herself or her love with it in moments of uncertainty, then using it later in attempts to get to her Romeo. In a similar manner, characters who were lying would tuck small red strips of cloth behind their backs, and when there was a death scene, all that the characters left behind was red puddles of fabric on the stage floor. This use of seemingly simple material was brilliantly artistic. It worked wonders to show, rather than tell, what the characters were feeling, and the stark crimson stuck with the audience, emphasizing the themes of the play. 

Until the tragic end, the Actors From The London Stage did a fantastic job bringing this 400-year-old play to life, allowing those in modern times to view perhaps the most classic of love stories right here on our campus.