How did that station wagon find its way onto the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe? The troupe of Brazilian clowns who played Romeo and Juliet this past weekend were not only touchingly funny and innately musical, they’re also, apparently, good mechanics.
In many Globe to Globe productions, it hasn’t been clear how precisely the original text has been translated. Romeo and Juliet clearly truncated the text, with a playing time of just under two hours and employing William Shakespeare as a narrator. The streamlined text cut many of the extraneous Montagues and Capulets, but retained much of the play’s romantic imagery. There were roses (still sweet, though here called “rosa”) and the inconstant moon, hung on a pole and carried by cast members. By changing the text and casting older actors, this production also managed to stop Romeo and Juliet from being whiny self-absorbed teenagers.
The production’s use of height and levels was particularly fascinating. The actors played in the yard, on the deck, inside the aforementioned station wagon, on a platform on top of it, and on ladders. The men played most of the show on stilts of varying heights and Juliet wore pointe shoes. This production reversed the usual playing of the balcony scene, placing Juliet inside the car and Romeo above her on the platform.
By subverting expectations while holding true to a beloved story, Groupo Galpão’s Romeo and Juliet created a beautiful and refreshing production.