The question of identity and the pull between family and romance are at the center of Juliet Among the Changelings, a world premiere play by Andie Arthur, and the first full production from Lost Girl’s Theatre, the company she co-founded with director Katherine Siegel.
Juliet Among the Changelings is set in modern-day Ohio. Juliet (Sofia Duemichen) and Miranda (Dians Garle) are two high school students who meet and are romantically drawn to one another. Juliet is shy, awkward and smart, while Miranda is a rebel. Miranda knows a lot about Juliet, but still has questions about Juliet’s life and the two women she lives with, who she believes to be Juliet’s two moms. Miranda has already met one, earthy, mysterious Lavinia (Jennipher Murphy) who makes and sells a drug called dust to the local kids, and Miranda has seen prim and proper Trudy (Courtney Poston). When Juliet performs a little bit of magic to keep them out of trouble at school, Miranda becomes even more interested in Juliet.
The truth of Juliet’s life is beyond even what Miranda can imagine. Juliet was given up by her birth mother as a baby to Lavinia, who is actually an exiled changeling desperate to get back to her own world, so desperate, in fact that she will do anything, even use Miranda as a means to her end. And Juliet must choose between living in the fairy world or staying with her new love, Miranda.
Arthur is very good at creating strong female characters and beautifully depicts the budding romance between Juliet and Miranda. In fact, each character in Juliet Among the Changelings is well-written and distinct. A little more explanation about the folklore surrounding the fairies and their world would help in understanding the specifics of the story, though it’s not needed for understanding what’s at stake for the characters.
As Juliet, Duemichen displays an unusual amount of charisma. Her scenes with Garle, a force to be reckoned with as Miranda, are genuine and sweet a terrific portrayal of young girls in love with each other, something we haven’t see much on stage. Murphy’s Lavinia is intense and scarily witchy, yet still sympathetic. And as Trudy, Poston is like a modern-day Samantha Stevens, waving her hand and creating magic and bringing a refreshing understanding and objective air to the story.
The design elements and staging are intriguing. Leslye Menhouse’s costume design is inspired and creative, as is the fanciful autumnal scenic design by Norma O’Hep de Jesus. The shadow puppets from Jim Hammond and operated by fairies Krystal Aleman and Paula Macchi---who also aid in the onstage scenery and magic---add a fun, whimsical touch.
The writing, performances and all other elements in Juliet Among the Changelings establish Lost Girl’s Theatre as a forceful new player on the South Florida theatrical landscape.
Juliet Among the Changelings by Lost Girls Theatre runs through August 21 at Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes. For tickets and more information, visit LostGirlsTheatre.com