ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare
directed by T.J. Walsh

Romeo and Juliet at the Trinity Shakespeare Festival is a play whose immovable backdrop is love. But its action is beautifully propelled by instigation and hatred, two necessary characteristics for trolling. The beauty of the play comes from our presuppositions that young, carefree lovers will almost certainly abandon trolling for the naïve prospect of a romantic unity. In a world of trolls, however, the naïve and the idealistic, no matter how pure at heart, are always victimized. Romeo (Quinn Moran) and Juliet (Carly Wheeler), whether from their growth-spurt as performers (they are both quite young and clearly fully of potential), with fantastic direction and coaching by T.J. Walsh, could not have been cast better. They brimmed with youngsters’ infatuation, which embarrasses onlookers, but only emboldens the two in love. They are so emboldened in fact, that, as Shakespeare wrote them and as Moran and Wheeler made them, the two denounce the animosity of the other characters, trolling them, instead, with hidden empathy. This was evident in Wheeler and Moran’s ability to build a springing gleefulness in their performances.

Perhaps this is the catharsis of Romeo and Juliet, the nobility of abandoning outrage for giddy bliss. Though the Montigue and Capulet crews offered admirable outrages to foil the lovers, Richie Haratine’s Friar Laurence drew us into the dangerous severity that even a balanced attempt at trolling can produce. I couldn’t help but note the chemistry that Haratine and Moran found with one another, almost like, forgive the pop-culture reference, that between Doc Brown and Marty McFly. Haratine ginned up a somber fondness from the audience with his version of the friar’s interest in his parishioners' contentment. It was palpable to the audience, and it was warm to experience his careful attention to a meaningful delivery. Unfortunately, his trolling efforts, a seemingly harmless concern for Romeo and Juliet’s well-being, devises too much complication. From it comes misunderstandings and distraught families. As the characters gather for the final mourning, Haratine has us feel the effect of Romeo and Juliet’s “tedious tale” because that, invariably, is all we get from our trolling.

There is hope here. There are lessons. Shakespeare’s trolls inform the audience that recanting behaviors and revealing true selves can turn aggressive desire into salvaged relationships. The Bard’s trolls also demonstrate the devastation of fulfilling the trollers’ ends. An honest discourse, rather than a disingenuous attempt to hobble an opponent, is the best way to prevail.