The hilarious The Capulets and the Montagues opened Theatre Erindale’s 23rd season this year. Written in the Spanish Golden Age by Lope de Vega and translated into English by Dakin Matthews, this play was brought to life by director Mimi Mekler and took great liberty in altering the well-known tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet into a tragicomedy (emphasis on comedy).
Men in tights and curls, swordfights (over cushions), and women who swoon and faint when gazing at their lover’s smiles—mix this in with lines in rhyme and metre, and you’ve entered an era long forgotten. It was a childish evening on which you knew where the plot was heading and the jokes were, honestly, quite cheesy, but the play turned you back into a child so you could appreciate the silliness of everything. Do people really marry after just seeing each other for one night? Not really… but if you’re Romeo and Juliet, you’re on a whole different level from us normal people when it comes to romance.
In a play focused on comedy, it was Romeo’s servant, the loud jester, who stole the show and left the audience roaring with laughter as he fumbled his way around the stage. Marine (fourth-year student Jaime Lujan), Romeo’s foolish servant, always managed to snack on a carrot or apple while Romeo rambled on about his undying, obsessive love for Juliet (which obviously no one actually listened to). At one point, he even offered raisins to the audience while he gave advice on how we should all be cowards like him—that way we would be able to live easier. Wise words from one so funny. If anyone in the play even tried to apply them, we wouldn’t have had to wait two hours for Juliet to come back from the “dead” (hibernation) and finally get her man.
The play was filled with great slapstick comedy: fake tresses slapping an actor’s face during a swordfight, a servant groping corpses in the dark, and the “robust farmgirl” role played by a male actor—it doesn’t get much funnier. Except, of course, an unexpected happy ending, where not a single lover unwittingly dies for the other, but instead we get three ridiculously happy couples ending it all with smiles, kisses, and bows as they say goodbye to us for their happily ever after.
The Capulets and the Montagues runs until November 2. Theatre Erindale will be hosting more plays this season about eras and areas they haven’t ventured into before, so if you happened to miss out on this play, you’ve got a whole lot of other surprises to look forward to this year.