Review: APT's remarkable 'Romeo and Juliet' demands attention

Posted August 21, 2023

RJ Cap Times Rev

By Lindsay Christians | The Capital Times | August 21, 2023

Never has a Romeo been surrounded by so many, yet still been so misunderstood.

At the center of American Players Theatre’s remarkable, high-energy new production of “Romeo and Juliet,” running in the Hill Theatre through Oct. 7, are Joshua Castille and Isabelle Bushue.

Bushue’s teenage Juliet is in full bloom — excitable, dramatic and passionate, babied by her nurse and misunderstood by her parents. She catches the light and draws the eye. No wonder Romeo climbs gates and scales walls for her.

Romeo, embodied by Castille in an aching performance that looks hot to the touch, comes into Juliet’s life with the force of a hurricane. Castille, a Deaf actor reprising a role he last played in Seattle in 2019, brings with him a half dozen other Romeos.

There’s the “heart chorus” who speak his thoughts and interpret his signs, the best friend (Nathan Barlow, an empathetic Benvolio) who learned to sign to connect with him, the friar who advises him.

Some of those voices, like Jim DeVita (as Lord Capulet) and Daniel José Molina (fiery Mercutio) were Romeos themselves once, on other stages. It all feels connected.

In this “Romeo,” adapted (with Castille) and directed by John Langs, connections feel tenuous and precious. Romeo’s friends have always failed to see how serious he is about what he’s feeling and downplay what he’s trying to tell them. Here, language barriers compound the distance between Romeo’s joking buddies and the boy’s own tender heart.

“He jests at scars that never felt a wound,” Romeo signs and DeVita speaks aloud.

Read the full review here.