Washington Post - Somewhat Recommended
"...At moments, "R+J" feels as if it's rehashing old lesson plans: Some elements remind you of "Spring Awakening," the bristling rock musical now on at Olney Theatre Center - whose cautionary themes about the repression of young people go back to Frank Wedekind's German play of the same title, written in 1890. Still, the inventiveness, the cleverness of the staging and the boundless energy of the cast keep us (well, most of us) glued to our seats."
Washington Examiner - Highly Recommended
"...Directed with a sure hand by Calarco, the result is an affecting, muscular production. Calarco is not aiming simply to set the original in different surroundings; he is more interested in how the new surroundings affect the play."
Baltimore Sun - Highly Recommended
".. Calareco gets admirable, finely polished work from the cast. Alex Mills leaps into the Romeo role with a disarming naturalness, matched by Jefferson Farber's vibrant take on Juliet. Rex Daugherty does colorful, nuanced work throughout, especially when portraying the Nurse. Joel David Santner completes the quartet in dynamic form."
DC Theater Arts - Highly Recommended
"...Shakespeare's R&J, the somewhat hip title ascribed to Joe Calarco's creative adaptation and intertwining of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set in a Catholic all-male boarding school, is highly visceral, physical, and jolting - and a very challenging concept for a play. Calarco directs a cast of four very energetic and talented actors at full throttle and with tremendous authority and assurance. From the militaristic opening and right through the various attempts of these four students to wrestle with the demons of their repression as they read and interpret passages from Romeo and Juliet, every movement of each actor and every moment of the play is synchronized and choreographed with meticulous precision. This tightly controlled oversight of this play is the play's main strength as it helps the audience to understand this unique concept."
Washington Blade - Recommended
"...Staged by “R&J’s” author Joe Calarco (who is gay), the production (Signature’s first-ever in the round) is beautiful to watch. Impeccably rehearsed, the appealingly boyish cast moves nonstop with manic energy and teenage boy horseplay, while never missing a cue or bit of business. James Kronzer’s impressively spare-yet-rich wood set is gorgeously lit by Chris Lee who slyly creates Verona’s romantic lattices, shadows and misty rain showers without a drop of water."
MD Theatre Guide - Highly Recommended
"...Among its many simple artistic flourishes is a waving bolt of red fabric that serves as designated blood, flare, and emotion as needed. The details of the wooden platform of the stage, echoed by the crown molding above depict not only the halls of a hallowed school, but can convert with a dazzling turn into a candlelit safe zone for love. The nimble actors use the surrounding balconies and stairs to their benefit as well."
DCTheatreScene - Recommended
Shakespeare’s R&J is a dance, exquisitely choreographed by Joe Calarco with words and music by Williams Shakespeare. It is the Bard’s great tragedy, done up almost to the word, but recontextualized, as the passage of almost four hundred years might recontextualize it. Or, put another way, it is exhibit A in behalf of the case that when something is true, time can make it different but will not change it.