During my summer holiday travelling across Italy, I visited Verona for a few days with my family. During our last night there, we went to see a theatrical production of Romeo and Juliet. Not having done any research beforehand, I had expected a generic theatrical experience where you take in the performance and feel numb by the end of it from sitting still for so long.
Needless to say, I was surprised to find that we had actually booked tickets to see a travelling show, so the rendition of Romeo and Juliet was more interactive than expected. Given that Verona is home to the courtyard of Juliet, it is not surprising that it was used to full effect. You start off in the aforementioned courtyard, where tourists flock to visit and take pictures of them placing their hand on Juliet’s breast, and then move around the city before ending up at the Teatro Nuovo for the finale. The performance managed to skilfully mix the classic appeal of Shakespeare’s play with street theatre, and was far more interactive than I expected. That’s because you were invited to partake in dancing and bear witness to the intrigue that develops over their secret marriage or the friar’s plot.
If walking isn’t your thing, fear not, as you only explore the modest-sized city centre. If you go to see this production in the late afternoon, you’ll find that the streets are still very lively as you walk around; Italians are fond of evening strolls (or ‘la passeggiata’) where they dress up in nice clothes, walk on the streets and socialise with each other or do some window-shopping. It also doesn’t hurt that you get to see the many restaurants and shops around Verona. If you think that you can settle down after a performance to a nice dinner, however, think again. Most of the best places close relatively early compared to the UK so it is advisable to eat out before visiting the theatre.
The narrator did a splendid job at entertaining the theatre-goers throughout the night. This was only amplified (no pun intended) by the theatre acoustics during the last few acts, which contributed to an emotive, tense atmosphere as the play reached the climax. I believe that the audience participation and involvement beforehand contributed to this and the realistic performances of the actors meant you could fully immerse yourself in the experience.
Since Verona is otherwise a sedate city, going to the theatre provided a nice change of pace from exploring the Italian architecture, indulging in the many varieties of ice-cream and bathing in the sun. Overall, I would recommend this experience to anyone passing through Verona over the summer; the show does not run at other times of the year. If nothing else, the fact that tickets are typically less than twenty euros per person should make it worth a degree of consideration.