Saturday, February 6, 2016


By Toby Zinman



By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer


Lantern Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet begins before it begins: fights on the street, stealthy comings and goings, women are grabbed, rich, high-born men are drunk and belligerent. Everyone is armed to the teeth—swords and knives—and then somebody says “Peace.” Yeah, right. What a place Verona is: feuds,  duels and havoc will, as they say, ensue. The young star-crossed lovers will, through their suicides, teach their parents the need for reconciliation.

This old sad story is about two teenagers from warring families who have a moment of joy only to have things go terribly wrong through an agony of  mistiming, mistakes, parental commands  and just plain bad luck. It’s heartbreaking all over again.

Juliet is played by the lovely Nicole Erb—she looks like a younger Jennifer Garner—and has all the shining eagerness of a fourteen-year-old girl who is wildly, deeply in love. She bounces down steps, she  moans about “old people” she has intense tearful tantrums defying her father (Leonard Haas) who wants her to marry handsome Paris (Jake Blouch who will reappear in a hilarious scene as the illiterate messenger and then again as the ferocious “fashion monger” Tybalt).

Unfortunately Juliet has fallen in love with Romeo who is something of a twerp as Shakespeare wrote him, and more of a twerp as Sean Lally plays him. Lally lacks classical diction and has a silly walk (presumably unintentional), all of which detract from Romeo’s tragic stature.

As Mercutio, Charlie DelMarcelle is superb (the Queen Mab speech is splendidly delivered)  and as Juliet’s Nurse, Ceal Phelan is both lovable and exasperating, just as she should be. Juliet’s mother (K.O. DelMarcelle) seems excessively cold and supercilious, while Frank X as the Friar is both  realistically human and elegantly Shakespearean simultaneously.

The mayhem of the plot as well as the mayhem of the place requires a fight director, and J. Alex Cordaro does his stuff, with the help of some very able actors who can convincingly fight very close to the audience in the very small arena that is the Lantern’s stage. The costumes, designed by Mary Folino, are handsome.


Lantern Theatre Co at St. Stephen’s  Theater, 10th & Ludlow Sts. Through April 1. Tickets $20-36. Information: 215-829-0395 or

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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