The Stage 2 Theatre Company makes their approach clear from the start with their production of "Romeo & Juliet" on the grounds of Glensheen Mansion. The "Do you bite your thumb?" scene is underscored with two songs guaranteed to produce chuckles as saucy wordplay gives way to wicked swordplay.
There is much humor to be found in Shakespeare's play and this small but energetic troupe not only mines every bit of the bard's written humor, they add even more bits of fun with things like yoga, contemporary phrases, and back massages.
Aye, there's the rub.
Hayley Rosenthal is the funniest Juliet you have ever seen. No cloistered innocent this time around, she does not get along with her mother and when she proposes matrimony to her Romeo you get the sense part of it is just calling his bluff.
Addi Sim's sincerity as Romeo serves him in good stead as the straight man to Juliet and the other characters, but the romantic comedy elements keep getting in the way of the chemistry between the lovers.
With only eight cast members everyone plays multiple roles. Antony Ferguson gets to make decidedly different impressions as the witty Mercutio and the prissy Lady Capulet.
Sometimes less is interesting: Tybalt (Simon VanVactor-Lee) is at a three to one disadvantage in the fatal sword fight and the Prince (Tygen Lundgren) banishes Romeo absent the feuding parents.
Elsa Hennessy-Barnes as the Nurse, Ian Wallin as Capulet, and Emily Chittenden as Benvolio complete the cast dedicated to tickling an audience's funny bone.
Audiences start off in front of the Carriage House, move to the Servants Courtyard for the Capulet's party, and end down by the Stone Arch Bridge for the scenes in the Capulet crypt. There are about 50 chairs at each location.
The setting sun in a minor nuisance at the first location, while London Road traffic and the babbling brook present acoustic challenges at the other two. There will be times when you cannot hear some of what is being said.
More importantly, with the wind coming off the lake and the audience sitting in shade, dressing warmly is a must.
Director Megan Graftaas takes full advantage of the setting of the Servants Courtyard, especially in staging the balcony scene. It might have been easier just to stage the entire play there, but there is no denying the beauty of that last location for the final scenes.
The big question was: Could the cast pull off the shift from entertaining romantic comedy to heartfelt tragedy?
Actually, they did: After being stabbed by Tybalt, Mercutio delivers his "Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man" pun with nary a titter from the audience.
But then they were back to throwing in gags and the spell was broken.
I could do without the nurse's second nip at the bottle or any of the schtick at the final location, because when you go to see "Romeo & Juliet" the most emotional moments in the evening should not be the star-crossed lovers playing ukuleles and singing "La Vie en Rose."
If you go
What: "Romeo & Juliet"
When: Glensheen Mansion, 3300 London Road
Where: 7 p.m. Tuesday and Saturday through June 25
How much: Free admission