Director Denise Devin is having quite a run staging abridged versions of the classics over at Zombie Joe's. Not long ago, there was a hilarious version of Hamlet, cum vampires and zombies, and then an equally entertaining version of Tartuffe — turbo-injected. Now comes the Bard's timeless fable of bickering families and star-crossed lovers spiced with an ample amount of jokes, and clocking in at just over an hour. Despite the compressed format, the play's essential elements are melded into a smoothly flowing, coherent narrative, mostly employing Shakespeare's text. As with most of the shows here, the production values are minimal. There are some crates of varying sizes and a small but mighty scaffold, which provides the necessary support for the balcony scene; Jeri Batzdorff has designed neatly understated, serviceable costumes. Devin marshals her 11-member cast around this small stage. Robert Walter's boyish good looks and charm serve him well as Romeo. Alexis Justman complements nicely as Juliet, although she could dial down the pubertal giddiness a notch. Also noteworthy are Rafael Goldstein and Curtiss Johns as, respectively, Mercutio and Benvolio. ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; through Oct. 18. (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com. Director Denise Devin is having quite a run staging abridged versions of the classics over at Zombie Joe's. Not long ago, there was a hilarious version of Hamlet, cum vampires and zombies, and then an equally entertaining version of Tartuffe — turbo-injected. Now comes the Bard's timeless fable of bickering families and star-crossed lovers spiced with an ample amount of jokes, and clocking in at just over an hour. Despite the compressed format, the play's essential elements are melded into a smoothly flowing, coherent narrative, mostly employing Shakespeare's text. As with most of the shows here, the production values are minimal. There are some crates of varying sizes and a small but mighty scaffold, which provides the necessary support for the balcony scene; Jeri Batzdorff has designed neatly understated, serviceable costumes. Devin marshals her 11-member cast around this small stage. Robert Walter's boyish good looks and charm serve him well as Romeo. Alexis Justman complements nicely as Juliet, although she could dial down the pubertal giddiness a notch. Also noteworthy are Rafael Goldstein and Curtiss Johns as, respectively, Mercutio and Benvolio. ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; through Oct. 18. (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.homestead.com.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Starts: Aug. 19. Continues through Oct. 8, 2011

LA Weekly