Mainstage takes a dark turn

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On January 8 and 9, Leesville’s honors theatre class, Mainstage, put on an enthralling production of Before Juliet, a sharp contrast to last year’s more comedic Mean Girls.

Before Juliet tells the story of every twist and turn that happened in young Romeo’s life before he met Juliet. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet portrays Juliet as Rome’s one true, star-crossed love. But Before Juliet centers around Rosaline, the mysterious girl, who in Romeo and Juliet, seemed to disappear as quickly as Romeo’s affection for Juliet appeared.

What made this “prequel” so atypical, however, was the way in which it intertwined a main plotline – focusing on Romeo and Rosaline’s love affair, with that of the mysterious and interfering characters Death and Strife.

When we first meet Death, played by Jake Banasiewicz, he introduces us to his fair maiden Strife, played by Christina Brewer, senior. Death and Strife work together to throw great turmoil upon the lives of Romeo, Rosaline and everyone around them.

Samantha Beauregard and Elizabeth Moore, who played Rosaline and Juliet, respectively, worked well as a juxtaposition of a jaded and vengeful heroine and a seemingly naive idealist.

In this story, both Rosaline and Juliet are members of the Capulet family, and while Rosaline is noted for wearing trousers under her dress and always wanting to fight with the boys, Juliet is searching for a love far more spiritual than what any suitor could give her – the undevoted love to God and the Church.

The play did a great job of blending the dark and twisted idea of a meddling fate. Death, Strife and the very convincing Chorus of Darkness (kudos to makeup crew), were there to represent how a dark fate is present from the beginning of Romeo and Juliet’s ultimate tragic ending. And the play took a most unexpected turn when Rosaline betrayed Romeo and arranged his death at the hands of his enemies.

The cast did a commendable job on creating a very desperate and mysterious atmosphere. However, without insider knowledge as to what each suspenseful death scene meant, an audience member may have been left in the dark.

Between each main scene, the Chorus of Darkness recreated some of the most famous tragic love stories in history: Antony and Cleopatra, Paris and Helen of Troy, Orpheus and Euridice and more. This was an artistically interesting concept but was almost so confusing as to take away from the main plotline.

Despite some confusing scenes, the cast of Mainstage conquered a very difficult and mature piece. It gave audience members an insight into the despair that fills Romeo at the beginning of a Shakespeare classic, and proved this year’s group of actors aren’t afraid to think outside of the box.

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