On Wednesday, 9th March, I went to Rome to see "Romeo e Giulietta" with some of my colleagues. One hour's drive and we were in Rome. Then the underground and a nice walk to the Eliseo which is in the central Via Nazionale. At the end, after three hours and a half, no bus nor underground trains. A taxi back to our car park. Was it worth it?
Juliet is one of my favourite heroines, so young but so determined, matter-of-fact, anticonformist, passionate. I've never loved Romeo very much, not my ideal man: a dreamer, inconsistent, volatile, too impulsive. I 've always liked the richness of this play: both comedy and tragedy, with a variety of love types, miscellaneous characters, a blend of linguistic registers and literary forms, with both high poetry and triviality, comic puns and refined metaphors.
Romeo is Riccardo Scamarcio. Loved by thousands of teenagers for his being Step, the good-looking hero in a successful film adapted from a popular teenage romance, "Tre metri sopra al cielo" ( 2004) , he is one of the most popular Italian faces on screen. His career includes more than twenty films and TV movies in very few years. Did he study at a drama school? Well, he started but then left without getting his diploma. Not so relevant for an actor. Not so relevant if you live in Italy. You mustn't be good at something to get to do it. You must just have the right look and you become , by magic, a popular well-paid star. I actually went to see this show full of prejudices but I had read such positive reviews that I had to give it a chance! So I said: "Let's go and see how good Mr Scamarcio has become in these years".
O Romeo, Romeo. Why are thou Romeo ... with Mr Scamarcio's inexpressive face and a horribly shouting voice? Give me back my sweet, romantic, passionate Romeo. Well, maybe he is not my ideal man but ... Where has he gone?
I've tried to search the Net to find info about this actress. None. Not in Italian, nor in English. In Turkish? Maybe. But I've started suspecting ...is this her absolute debut on stage? Let's give young people good chances, that's right and fair. Only, please, first check their talent and language skills. I've nothing against young actors at their debut, especially if they can face the audience as Greg Baldock did at the Old Vic in London in December, substituting a great name, Tom Hollander, with great talent in a very engaging double role. And he had just left drama school! (see my blogpost / interview HERE)
Romeo e Giulietta at Teatro Eliseo in Rome? Few things. Mercutio ( Andrea Di Casa), the Nurse (Milvia Marigliano), the slow motion opening scene of the fights in the streets of Verona , the bare scenery. I can't find anything else. Too little for a positive response.
The audience was divided in the end. A good deal of people left the theatre before the ending and the final tribute. I would have done the same but ... I was to curious to see how the many teenagers (girls) would respond. They shouted and shouted and clapped hysterically, of course. Here we are. Love is blind. Those actors had killed the icons of tragic love but were overwhelmed with love and enthusiasm. Bah! I was stunned.
How would you imagine the staging of a contemporary and modernized Romeo and Juliet? Romantic? This one was hysterical. Passionate? No, often pharsical. More comedy? No, more absurdity. Surreal? No, wrong. Completely wrong. It totally lacked the intensity, the intimacy we can recognize in Shakespeare's words. It was shouted, aggressive, bizarre. I know, I know. The world is devastated and shaken by huge catastrophes like earthquakes and tsunami. And I am shocked and sad for that. But I am even sadder , because in my country they are trying to kill culture and art. And beauty.
P.S. We had tickets for Saturday 5th March but the show was cancelled because Mr Scamarcio had to take part in an award giving ceremony somewhere. Popularity.