Juliet grows up, Shakespeare’s feminist bona fides receive dilatory vindication, and a young actress assesses the slings and arrows of life and love in What, Lamb! What, Ladybird!, Charlene V. Smith’s dynamic one-woman show rooted in the passion and pathos of Romeo and Juliet’s eponymous heroine.
Part Shakespearean performance piece, part memoir, and part literary discourse, Smith’s hybrid production seeks to debunk the popular conception of Juliet’s love for Romeo as a starry-eyed adolescent infatuation – and, in so doing, to spur a reappraisal of modern love in light of Juliet’s example. By juxtaposing enactments of key scenes in Shakespeare’s tragedy with tales of her own romances, Smith unveils the sophistication, sense of purpose, and all-encompassing élan of Juliet’s love – and the contrasting difficulties that we moderns experience in trying to emulate it.
Smith, a formidable Shakespearean actress in her own right, seamlessly juggles multiple personas as she swings, with abundant wit and charm, from Elizabethan thespian to contemporary pedagogue and dreamer and back again. The effectiveness of her performance springs in large measure from its authenticity. For What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! is, in the end, a deeply personal play suffused with its star’s lifelong devotion to the Bard’s plays and her appreciation of their fundamental universality. The show resonates not only because of the story Smith tells, but because of the sense you get that it is, at its core, genuinely, wholly true.
Running Time: 75 Minutes
What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! information and tickets.