TUTA gives an old love story a youthful shot in the arm.
TUTA delivers the goods—it’s that simple. The low-profile, Off-Loop theater company picks meaty plays, strips them to their barest elements, casts them with great actors, admits a paying audience and then stands back to let it all unfold. Considering the number of mediocre plays that open in any given season, that must be harder than it sounds.
In November, TUTA is producing The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (the original title of the play’s 1599 printed edition). And to be fair, if you’d told us at the beginning of this year that the fall show we’d be most excited about would be Romeo and Juliet, we would have requested transfer paperwork for Time Out Islamabad. But a TUTA R & J promises something more than another Shakespeare revival.
Our zealous faith in the project is based mainly on director Zeljko Djukic; his previous efforts have shown that he knows more about youth angst than the entire Brat Pack. In the 2006 plays Huddersfield and Tracks, both of which examined the raw lives of twentysomethings coping with the aftermath of the Balkan wars, Djukic found some of the city’s most gifted young actors and produced howling, visceral, even terrifying pieces of theater.
And what’s more howling, visceral and terrifying than young romance on war-torn streets? “How come we still think this play is a romantic poem? [The] Montagues and Capulets’ world is defined by hatred,” Djukic says of Shakespeare’s love story. From the director’s point of view, “Hostility and hatred [should be] presented vividly and trustfully so that the love should seem improbable.”
If young lovers surrounded by hostility and hatred don’t sound like your cup of tea, allow us to introduce the lovers in question: Alice Wedoff, TUTA’s too-good-to-call-her-an-ingénue ingénue, and Matt Holzfeind, a sometimes-underground-sometimes-mainstream offbeat everyman who never disappoints. As if two live wires like Wedoff and Holzfeind on the stage weren’t enough, this full-throttle R & J will draw much of its energy from an adrenaline-pumping live score of rock and pop, performed entirely by the cast.
But don’t expect any fatty ingredients in this lean staging. In fact, you’ll witness the exact opposite at this high-impact piece of kinetic Shakespeare. As Djukic puts it, “Playing Shakespeare is good for losing weight.”
Check out the other sections in our 2008 Fall Preview: