'Romeo and Juliet' Review: Classical Theater of Harlem Earns Its Stripes

July 16, 2014 2:41 PM

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I recently had the pleasure of waiting a mere six hours to get free tickets to the Public Theater's production of "Much Ado About Nothing" in Central Park. The next night, I breezed into Marcus Garvey Park, no waiting or tickets required, for an equally invigorating production of "Romeo and Juliet," directed with deliberation and thoughtfulness by Justin Emeka. This second annual effort of the Classical Theatre of Harlem to position itself as the "Uptown Shakespeare in the Park" -- after last year's guffaw-inducing "Midsummer Night's Dream" -- demonstrates the company's ability to tackle tragedy while making Shakespeare completely modern and relevant. For those readers who don't have the good fortune to live in Harlem, this production is well worth the trip.

I have always loved "Romeo and Juliet." Say what you will, the play demonstrates that being in love "feels f***ing great while it lasts," as one Shakespeare scholar (and my former professor) once said with pith and eloquence. Sheldon Best and Natalie Paul portray the doomed lovers with urgency and a...

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