There’s always something valiant about free outdoor Shakespeare, no matter the players or the play.
But an extra measure of appreciation is due to the Drilling Company, which — led by director David Marantz — presented its Bryant Park staging of Romeo and Juliet on a day so swelteringly hot the cast couldn’t even stand onstage, and had to create an impromptu reblocking in the grass nearby.
Shakespeare’s teen-iest tragedy, with its overheated violence and desperate angst, feels especially appropriate under a blistering summer sun.
Marantz’s production is a sweet, straightforward retelling of the star-crossed lovers’ tale: Boy and girl from feuding families meet, marry in secret, and get hit with about the worst luck ever, resulting in a big pile of bodies in the Capulet family tomb.
The production boasts some strong performances: Andrew Gombas’s intensely manic Romeo, Anwen Darcy’s punky Mercutio.
But there aren’t many surprises here. A gesture toward a concept, positioning the Capulets as modern-day corporate kingpins and the Montagues as labor types, does little except to force half the cast into stifling suits and ties (the others get off a little easier: work shirts and jeans).
Still, it’s the story we’re here to see, and the Drilling Company presents it well. Maybe next summer we can have Shakespeare in the pool instead?
Romeo and Juliet
Directed by David Marantz
Bryant Park Shakespeare
Sixth Avenue at 42nd Street