(Scott Stiffler’s article appeared in the Villager, 4/3.)
HARD SPARKS: “R & J & Z” Talk about love among the ruins. With the Black Death in full swing, a scrappy playwright by the name of William Shakespeare penned “Romeo and Juliet” — in which two kids from warring clans fall hard for each other then promptly drop dead. Not so fast, says Hard Sparks theater company. Their “R & J & Z” adds another act to the tale, a third letter that stands for “Zombie” and a reversal of fortune for the doomed lovers.
“Romeo and Juliet,” notes director Joan Jubett, “begins as a comedy and ends as a tragedy” But their version “begins as a tragedy and ends as a comedy.” Set against the backdrop of Verona’s plague, playwright Melody Bates (who plays Juliet) blends zombie-style dread and gore with the Bard’s knack for finding humanity in our darkest hours. Told in verse with 18 actors, it all unfolds over the course of 24 action-packed, brain-eating, limb-severing, hard-lovin’ hours. Oh, yes, there will be blood!