Romeo and Juliet comes to Bermuda

A Croatian theatre group will bring one of the most iconic love stories to the Bermuda stage.

The Dubrovnik-based Midsummer Scene Festival production of Romeo & Juliet opens tomorrow, painting Shakespeare’s tragedy in a 1960s mafia setting.

Filip Krenus, an actor and a founder of the Midsummer Scene Festival, said the Bermuda Festival is beginning to feel like home.

It will be the group’s third performance on the island since 2017 when Bermudian actor Jason Eddy reached out to festival organisers.

He said: “Each show presents a different challenge. Romeo & Juliet transfers from outdoor venue to the indoor space of Ruth Seaton James Centre where we are performing for the first time.

“Bringing a show this far from home is easier when you are working with a trusted local team who are building a set and giving us rehearsal time to give your audience the best show possible.”

Mr Krenus began work in the theatre while he studied English and literature in Zagreb, Croatia, and later moved to London to pursue an acting career.

But he said he returned to Croatia for Midsummer Scene, which is held in the coastal city of Dubrovnik.

Mr Krenus said: “I have just formed my production company in London and met the then mayor of Dubrovnik, who wanted a continuous English theatre project for the city.

“Together with the Dubrovnik tourist board, he connected me with Darija Mikulandra Žanetic and Jelena Marži, who have their own company in Croatia and, in 2014, we opened the festival.”

He said after Bermuda the production will travel to Germany before it returns to Croatia.

Mr Krenus said that while many have been “scarred and scared” by Shakespeare in school, where they can be presented as old and dull, his shows still carry beauty, power and joy when seen and heard on the stage.

He said: “Shakespeare deals with eternal human questions in an incredibly human way.

Romeo & Juliet is one of his early tragedies, written in clear rhyme that makes it easier to understand and it talks about impossible love that ends in death.

“Even his small characters are well rounded and bristling with life and humour. The verse and archaic words pose no obstacle in understanding the plot.”

Mr Krenus added: “This play in particular endures as not many things have changed in human behaviour since Shakespeare.”

He said the production, directed by Sean Aita, is set in the early 1960s entrenched in the context of the Northern Italian mafia.

In the iconic romantic tragedy a young couple from rival families fall in love.

Mr Krenus plays Romeo’s friend and confidant Mercutio.

He said: “Mercutio is a curious character. I love his so-called Queen Mab speech where he reveals a great deal of inner anguish through use of fantastic imagery.

“He also suffers deeply, but hides it behind a mask of humour and almost taunts death — that makes him very exciting to play.”

Mr Krenus urged the public to come out to see the production, which has a second performance on Tuesday.

He said: “This is a show where you have everything — high drama of two feuding houses, a wonderful love story presented by two excellent up and coming actors, humour and passion, knife fights and an eternal love story.

“What more could you want?”