“…We Won At Theatre.” Romeo & Juliet: An Escapist Comedy
Written by Denyse Terry
Edited by Rebecca Raveendran
Ryan M. Sero and company return to the Fringe this year with Romeo and Juliet: An Escapist Comedy. Sero typically relies on small teams and exchanging characters. With six cast members and a dizzying array of roles, Sero remains true to style. Taking the tale about two star-crossed lovers and their feuding families, Sero goes full absurdist on us. From their press kit: “Romeo has a lot on his mind: his girlfriend has dumped him, he just fell in love with Juliet, the daughter of his enemies, the Capulets, and he can’t find meaning in life. Not only that, but try finding a decent barber.”
The affable 27 year old explains, “It’s vaudeville turns into Marx brothers turns into Greek Tragedy.” The Fringe has been home to a few of make.art. theatre’s productions. A Modicum of Freedom was ‘Pick of the Fringe’ in 2009. In Between Places happened in 2010. Don Quixote followed at the 2011 Fringe Festival and was playfully nominated for “Best use of a wheel barrel” by View Magazine. Last year we got Jack and Jill Bieber-Fever a ‘Best in Venue’ winner.
Romeo and Juliet: An Escapist Comedy got its start at Theatre Aquarius’ Playwright’s Unit two years ago. What initially started out as an assignment turned out to be a hit which he took to the Pearl Company Canadian Theatre Festival in 2012 where it was the best attended show.
“The dialogue is witty, smart and hilarious.” Ontario Arts Review 2012
“I’ve sort of Woody Allan-ized it.”says Sero, referring to his oft sited inspiration who he admires in part for the way he takes “…big things, like love and death; those themes are never exhausted. They are equally unfathomable.” Sero takes 60 minutes to explore those themes, “…from a different angle, using comedy.”
More comfortable when he is either writing or acting, Sero is cast as Romeo.
Directing this romp through love is Tyler Brent. Well known for the Hamilton grown Sketch Comedy Troupe The Ugly Stiks and last year’s Zombie hit, Bridezilla vs The Apocalypse, Brent has a well-developed funny bone himself.
The two met at Fringe 2010 when they shared a venue for their plays (Brent’s Purple and Sero’s In Between Places). Both successful, Sero says that’s when he first heard a now favourite line, “We won at theatre.”
Since then they have worked together often, alternating acting and directing roles. Brent teaches by day and just seems so staid-like it’s always fun to see his comedic take on things, this time as Tybalt (cousin to Juliet, rival of Romeo’s) as well as Juliet’s wet-nurse! and confidante.
“I love Annalee’s Juliet.” Says Sean Emberley (Grey Gardens, To Kill A Mockingbird, Amigo’s Blue Guitar)
A musician and actor, Emberley’s love of theatre started in high school but he left it alone for 17 years until one night he saw a performance by the Ugly Stiks and, “I was amazed by it. That people could do that and actually make a living.” He volunteered at Hamilton Urban Theatre, and got to know Brent while working on a number of the Bard’s works (also with Hammer Entertainment). Emberley has four roles, two of which are based on the original play. There’s Friar Laurence, an early ally of the young lovers and also Capulet (Julia’s father). Look for a surprise role change at the end!
Esther Huh, a 2009 Sheridan graduate of music and theatre performance, plays the waiter, and Friar John – who fails to warn Romeo of the only-sleeping Juliet, as well as Benvolio, a cousin and friend of Romeo’s.
Laura Ellis was also in last year’s Bridezilla vs The Apocalypse and plays multiple roles, three of which are: the Apothecary, Rosaline – Romeo’s first love, and Mercutio -mercurial friend to Romeo that instigates a few deaths. Says Ellis, “Playing Mercutio is a blast. He is such a juicy character and one that women rarely get a chance to sink their teeth into. Not to mention I get to use a sword and do some wicked stage combat.”
The Fringe certainly seems to have Shakespeare on its mind this year. The July 16 Kick-Off party features multiple local politicians, getting up on stage to perform a variety of the Bard’s scenes. The cast of this play will be up on stage as well delivering a two minute tease of the 60 minute comedy.
There will be period costumes. There will be ‘anachronism fun’. There will be puns. There may or may not be a balcony. “For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” I can’t wait.
All Photos By Jody Sero
Play: Romeo & Juliet: An Escapist Comedy
Company: Make Art Theatre https://www.facebook.com/make.art.theatre
Details: Written by Ryan M. Sero, directed by Tyler Brent
Cast: Esther Huh, Tyler Brent, Laura Ellis, Sean Emberley, Annalee Flint, Ryan M. Sero
Location: Studio at Theatre Aquarius
Show Times: Fri July 18 7 PM, Sun July 20 9:30PM, Tue July 22 9PM, Wed July 23 8PM, Thu July 24 6PM, Fri July 25 11PM, Sat July 26 7:30PM