Vanguard University offers a dynamic, passionate and visceral production of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."
Director Susan Berkompas has set her concept of this classic tragedy in the here and now. Her vision of a "modern day, industrial Verona" features tattooed gang bangers in both the Capulet and Montague camps.
The seething antagonism between the two families (the reason for the feud is not provided) pervades the Vanguard production and often overshadows the forbidden romance at the play's core. But once the two title characters are joined, their tragic attraction dominates, as it should.
Too often, directors cast older, more seasoned actors in the parts written for a boy and girl in their mid-teens. Royen Kent and Rosalyn Brickman may be college students, but both are physically convincing in the title roles.
Kent excels in the guise of a lovesick youth, acting against all constraints from both his elders and peers. His passion for Brickman, and hers for him, are splendidly interpreted, although the script itself becomes a bit melodramatic toward the climax.