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Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen

Theatre Review: Romeo + Juliet by a Company of Fools—until 08.17.19

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier on July 10, 2019

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier. Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).

“For never was a story of more woe. Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” – William Shakespeare.

The classic tale of star-crossed lovers has come to a park near you this summer, with a Company of Fools production of Romeo + Juliet at the Torchlight Shakespeare Festival.

Probably one of the most well-known Shakespeare pieces, we can guarantee you have never seen it this way before. Directed by Nicholas Leno and performed by a small and mighty cast including Leslie Cserepy, Andrea Massoud, Kate McArthur, Geoff McBride, Norah Paton and Kate Smith, this production of Romeo + Juliet should be added to the top of your to-do list this summer.

There are brilliant performances by the entire cast, many of whom play upwards of three different parts.

The show moves through 36 parks across Eastern Ontario making the show more accessible to new audiences every night.

With visuals inspired by the carnival look, (which you can read more about in our interview with Nicholas Leno) the costumes and set design transform you into a Verona you’ve never seen before. With simple yet beautifully artistic sets (designed by Brian Smith), the over-the-top comedy and the outdoor setting, you feel as if you have been brought into the world of pantomime.

There are brilliant performances by the entire cast, many of whom play upwards of three different parts. The biggest stand-out for us was Leslie Cserepy, the show’s Romeo. His performance was emotional, funny at the right times, and truly encompassed the character of Romeo.

A passage from the director notes really hit home for us on the direction of the piece. “My goal with this production is to encourage young people to question the status quo, be brave enough to confront those in positions of power, and remain hopeful that they can bring about change in a world that can often be a dangerous and destructive place,” Nicholas Leno, Interim Artistic Director.

With simple yet beautifully artistic sets (designed by Brian Smith), the over-the-top comedy and the outdoor setting, you feel as if you have been brought into the world of pantomime.

Great for any age, it is the perfect way to introduce newbies to the world of theatre or to continue to grow your love of it for those of us who are pretty entrenched in it already. The relaxed and casual environment, moving locations (which means there is almost a guarantee there’s one near you!) and pay-what-you-can donation means there is no excuse not to go!

This was a first time for both of us at the summer Torchlight Shakespeare Festival and we left at the end of the night wondering why we had never gone before.

It became clear throughout the night that this is the way Shakespeare was meant to be seen. So grab your sunscreen and your lawn chairs and find the performance nearest to you before the summer ends!


Romeo + Juliet runs until August 17th as part of the Torchlight Shakespeare Festival in parks across Eastern Ontario. Visit a Company of Fools website for the schedule and location information. Tickets are pay-what-you-can with a suggested donation of $20.