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Marysville's Red Curtain Foundation presents homoerotic Romeo and Juliet

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Photo by Kenny Randall
Photo by Kenny Randall

While the works of Shakespeare are nothing new, the Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts in Marysville, Wash., is taking a different angle for its production of Romeo and Juliet. Its take, by Joe Calarco, tells a homoerotic story of forbidden love between men.

Shakespeare's R&J follows four teenage boys attending an all-male parochial boarding school during the 1950s. Tired of their rigid routines, they begin to read and perform Romeo and Juliet after school. While the boys initially take their roles less than seriously, they quickly become enveloped in the story, with those playing the leads seeming to take it to a whole new level.

Photo by Kenny Randall  

"The script allowed me, the cast, and design team the opportunity... to revisit one of Shakespeare's most well-known plays through an entirely new lens and explore what words mean, given this unfamiliar setting," said Scott Randall in his letter from the director. "As recommended by the playwright, I first approached his script by rereading William Goldberg's Lord of the Flies, a book that examines what might happen if a group of preteen boys were isolated from civilization and left to their own devices. Golding's answer was that these boys would revert to their primal state."

The result of the analysis of the two works led to the creation of the familiar story of young love set in a time of postwar ideals and repressed ideation. With a minimum use of props and a simple three-story stage, the audience of the play is able to imagine the roles along with the boys.

Shakespeare's R&J will run for two more weekends — Jan. 26 through Feb. 4 — with performances at 8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors/students/military. Buy tickets online at https://redcurtainfoundation.org or over the phone at (360) 322-7402 or at the box office Tuesdays through Saturdays from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.