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?

 Juliet is Deniz Ozdogan, Turkish. O my , not that Juliet can't be any nationality. But her accent was so strong and Juliet has so long soliloquies! It was often impossible to recognize the words. Then, her voice was so wrong,  so childish and monotously chanting.  Juliet is young,  not childish. Instead,  this depicting her as a grown-up child makes the key scenes laughable. We laughed  at the masque, at the balcony scene, at her honeymoon. A bitter laugh.  Those scenes were not meant to be comedy. And this staging was not announced as a parody.
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)

Was there anything good in this 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.


lunarossa said...

What a pity, MG! I also cannot stand when a play is distorted like that. I'd hoped Scarmarcio would be good, as I liked him in Mio Fratello e' Figlio Unico...but I half expected he wouldn't have been up to it. I know the problem in Italy, looks are much more important than talent...But let's leave it there...Have a nice weekend. Ciao. A.

Anonymous said...

You know I usually try to avoid prejudices, MG, but in this case I've said from the very beginning: I knew this cast wouldn't do any good :(
Happy to hear that Mercutio at least wasn't bad, though.
have a nice w-e,

Claudia said...

I had read so enthusiastic reviews about this play that I was starting to correct my opinion about Scamarcio's qualities, saying to myself "maybe he's grown up since he was just a pretty face". I appreciated him in "Colpo D'Occhio", he really seemed not so bad to me in this movie, but maybe Shakespeare is not an ordinary acting test and he has been overrated. I can only say that I thought he was at least phisically proper for the role (I mean, he's similar to the Romeo I have pictured in my mind). Un caro saluto,

Maria Grazia said...

@Claudia, lunarossa, Karen
I appreciated Riccardo Scamarcio in "Mine Vaganti". He was not bad there. But I think he has to study to hard to be ready for the stage. But he was better than Juliet, anyway. Much better. I couldn't understand his anger, though. He was an angry Romeo. He shouted aggressively most of the time. And, Claudia, he is more Tybalt than Romeo in my mind. I mean, physically. I think he would have been a good Tybalt. But it's too late.
At the end I wanted to shout to all those enthusiastic girls clapping and shouting at him: "Give me a Richard, I'll leave you your Riccardo". :-) Thanks for your comments. Have a very nice weekend. MG