by Jennifer Martlock
Rochester University’s theatre department is presenting "In Juliet's Garden," a play adapted from Judith Elliot McDonald's book of the same name, during two weekends in February.
The play stars eight RU students
Tracey Vineyard, senior theatre major, as Portia from "The Merchant of Venice”
Rebekah Graham, junior theatre major, as Katharina from "the Taming of the Shrew"
Caels Hepworth, sophomore musical theatre major, as the Nurse and Lady Macbeth from "Romeo and Juliet" and "Macbeth"
Arianna Engnell, senior theatre major, as Ophelia from "Hamlet"
McKeighla Saxinger, freshman musical theatre major, as Desdemona from "Othello"
Victoria Bryant, junior elementary education major, as Juliet from "Romeo and Juliet"
Odera Office, junior musical theatre major, as Shakespeare's editor and agent Jacqueline de Boys
Amber Luma, sophomore theatre major, as Titania from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Annika Huey, RU alumnus and administrative assistant in the School of Humanities, directs the play.
Synopsis of play
The play begins with Portia talking on the phone stating that she is having difficulty locating Juliet's garden when Katharina comes in. The two greet each other begrudgingly and discuss who else will be joining them. As they are waiting, they are greeted by Juliet's nurse, who also played minor roles in their plays.
Eventually, the other girls arrive—Ophelia, Desdemona and Juliet. They discuss the problems they have with their plays, mainly that they believe the plays don't portray them properly and the character arcs that they go through. They also wonder if William Shakespeare will be joining them, but Juliet tells them that he will not and that he has instead sent a representative.
Jacqueline de Boys then arrives and listens to the girls' grievances. She tries to convince them that their roles are important, and they are role models who are more than side characters.
The actors were all excellent, delivering their lines with the energy needed to convey their emotions. The play is also funny with the women having history between them that lends to their interactions with one another, and Ophelia gets up to many antics. The play is an enjoyable watch, and includes a few unexpected moments. It's only an hour long, and gives a new perspective to these characters.
How to watch
Evening performances of "In Juliet’s Garden" are Feb. 13-15 and Feb. 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. while matinee performances are Feb. 16 and Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. All productions take place on the campus of Rochester University at 800 W. Avon Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48307 in the Associate’s Lab Theatre. Tickets are $5 for students and $12 in advance ($15 at the door) for adults. To purchase tickets online, visit www.rochesteru.edu/theatre. For group sales or more information, call (248) 218-2149 or e-mail email@example.com.