Romeo, Juliet and pizza make this a classic

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Romeo, Juliet and pizza make this a classic

Classics are enduring because they have parallels in modern times. And so it is with Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which has been presented in countless versions in many countries for centuries.
Lithuania’s rising theater director and producer Oskaras Korsunovas brings his “contemporary version” of the love story to Korea in a very contemporary setting indeed: a pizza parlor.
Instead of using swords and knives, the Montagues and Capulets, who operate pizzerias, fight in the kitchen, with white flour and dough flying about all over the stage. But it still remains the tragedy that Shakespeare intended, with all the accompanying tensions and love/hate relationships. There is still the romance between the only children of the two families, and the tragic aftermath.
Unlike the sentimental romance that permeates the original play, however, Korsunovas’s version is grotesque with all the violence and madness that is part of human nature.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Mr. Korsunovas, 36, said, “‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a play that manifests the conflict and clashes between traditionalism and modernism. The play does not tell us the origin of the conflict between the two families, and no one seems to remember why they hate each other so much.”
White flour becomes the motif for death when it is used as a mask for the dead Mercutio and Tybalt, a sleeping pill for Juliet and poison for Romeo, and it is the dust that fills the cathedral air. In discussing this aspect, Mr. Korsunovas said, “They use the same flour [to make pizza], they reside in the same area, yet their hatred for each other appears to be a long-standing tradition. The flour is their daily staple in life, but it has become a food of animosity. The food of life is becoming the poison of life.”
The eponymous O.K. Theater has made its mark since its founding in 1999 for presenting classical plays in a modern context and modern plays in the classical motif. Mr. Korsunovas made his breakthrough in 1990, when his play “There to be Here” won the Fringe First award at the Edinburgh Festival. This is the second time that the theater has staged performances in Korea, the first being in 2002.


by Choi Jie-ho

“Romeo and Juliet” runs until tomorrow at the LG Arts Center. Tickets cost 30,000 won ($30) to 60,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114 or visit www.lgart.com.
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