Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

‘Duel Reality’ soars high at Cutler Majestic Theatre


Quebec-based acrobat troupe the 7 Fingers performed “Duel Reality,” a thrilling show inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” on Feb. 7 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. However, instead of the Montagues and Capulets, the seven-time ArtsEmerson collaborators simplified the interfamilial drama into the Blue and Red teams, respectively. 

With a total runtime of just under 70 minutes, “Duel Reality” doesn’t cover the intricacies of the nearly three-hour play that it is based on, but instead chooses to focus on a selection of the most action-heavy moments with limited dialogue.

Nevertheless, it should not be left unsaid that this show isn’t trying to retell “Romeo and Juliet” accurately. It’s most definitely inspired by it, but it is not a direct adaptation. It’s more focused on taking the most famous moments from it and imbuing it with their signature 7 Fingers flair and showmanship. Audiences can expect neon hues with a variety of music and performance styles—a hula-hoop stunt done to jazz, a sultry dance with slow, romantic music, a seesaw duel set to an intense score, to name a few.

Upon arrival, audience members are divided into two teams, signified by a colored wristband given to them by staff. This creates a divided theater that encourages viewers to cheer for their team as they twirl and flip across the stage. 

Of course, the audience members ended up cheering and clapping for the red-and-blue–adorned performers regardless of their affiliation, as the stunts the acrobats performed were simply too intricate and jaw-dropping not to be impressed by. This is largely due to the fantastic choreography and direction, both of which were led by Californian artistic director Shana Caroll, who is also the co-founder of the 7 Fingers troupe. 

Calling Caroll a master of her craft would be a massive understatement. The list of projects she has led ranges from coveted to even more highly coveted, such as a portion of the opening to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the Cirque du Soleil 2012 Academy Awards performance. This prestige and renown are well earned, as the direction and choreography presented in “Duel Reality” are second to none in the acrobatics field. 

Although not striking the same feelings of emotional turmoil as in the original Shakespeare play, Caroll manages to create a feeling very similar to it. This is despite the only spoken dialogue being a few lines from the play, which could barely be made out because of the loud, overwhelming, and atmospheric music and the enthusiastic roar of the crowd. 

Even if you were not able to catch what precisely the performers were saying or have little idea what the plot of “Romeo and Juliet” is, Caroll’s direction and the expertise of the 7 Fingers’ acrobatic skills perfectly convey the pure, unfiltered emotions that the characters face.

In particular, the dance sequences between “Romeo and Juliet” made their romance highly appealing and emotionally raw. It’s a choreographic journey that follows the two lovers embracing and flowing through movements together in a way that can only be described as intimate. The way the two can seamlessly move across one another and allow each other to perform such intricate acrobatic tricks perfectly conveys their forbidden romance. 

Regardless of passion for Shakespeare, this acrobatics show is not to be missed. As ArtsEmerson did seven times previously, trust in the 7 Fingers to shock and awe you while simultaneously taking you on an unforgettable emotional journey. It’s entertaining, gratifying, and a fantastic experience worth visiting the Colonial Theater. “Duel Reality” is currently playing until Feb. 18, and tickets are available on the ArtsEmerson website.

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