Romeo and Juliet – Kirkus Review

Stratford Zoo Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare Ian Lendler

Woo-hoo! The first "official" review is in for The Stratford Zoo's performance of Romeo & Juliet, and I couldn't be happier.

"The animal thespians at the Stratford Zoo perform yet another of the Bard's tragedies, this time with a rooster and a bear in the title roles.

After their successful production of Macbeth (2014), the inhabitants of the Stratford Zoo decide to tackle another one of Shakespeare's most recognized plays. Their version casts the Capulets as bears that belong to a group called Wilders, or animals that live freely out in the forest, and the Montagues as roosters, belonging to the Petters, farm animals residing at the Verona Petting Zoo. The star-crossed pair meet at a costume party, where Juliet is dressed as Abraham Lincoln, and Romeo has opted for the not-so-clever disguise of a mask over his eyes. Here, Romeo and Juliet are destined to be best friends rather than lovers, and the “tragic” conclusion involves induced hibernation rather than suicide, making this splendidly approachable—and adeptly not watered-down—for younger readers. While the revue's players are funny in their own rights, subplots that flare up among the audience members prove just as amusing. Bright and bold illustrations splash across each page, utilizing a variety of panel shapes, sizes, and full-page spreads to create a visually enticing backdrop. Fans of the series, leave the hankies at home: the zoo's next performance promises to be a comedy.

Bravo! Where so many earnest Shakespeare adaptations flop, this series bids fair to light genuine enthusiasm in young readers. (Graphic fantasy/classic. 8-12)"