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
As Romeo and Juliet come from opposing families, their love must be concealed until after their marriage. But having slain Tybalt, Romeo is banished and despite the well-meaning intervention of Friar Laurence, fate ensures that the marriage is never truly celebrated.