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Theater Review

'Romeo' Becomes a Bawdy Comedy

January 10, 2002|JANA J. MONJI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Romeo (Rick Batalla) has a wandering mustache and a mostly Italian accent. Juliet (Meleney Humphrey) is a giggly rich girl in sneakers. Juliet's mother, Lady Oates (Beth Kennedy), has a makeup job straight from the Barnum & Bailey Circus but is doing a mean mommy dearest impression. The nurse (Michelle Anne Johnson) has a curiously active chest.

Using the music of '80s pop singers Daryl Hall and John Oates, the Troubadour Theater Company has concocted an adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy that's so loose that the threads sometimes show. It's not as well-tailored as the company's "12th Dog Night" or as hilariously dippy as the disco version of the Bard's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," but "Romeo Hall and Juliet Oates," now at the Falcon Theater, is still bawdy fun.

Front-row seats can be somewhat hazardous for patrons (who might get slightly misted), although no one is really safe, because the actors race into the audience. There are also acrobatics, with audience participation.

This love story parody played earlier at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, and from the looks of it, the troupe has spared every expense on the scenery. The balcony scene involves an exceptional use of stilts.

Too many songs are exhausted during the party scene in which Romeo and Juliet meet. Under Walker's direction, some scenes feel rushed. In the end, the death scene doesn't wind down the play.

Still, the Troubadours' flippancy and physicality are winning. Purists beware.

But for others, this is a wonderfully silly sendup.

*

"Romeo Hall and Juliet Oates," Falcon Theater, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank. Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m. Ends Jan. 27. $20. (818) 955-8004. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

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