Featuring an all male cast, Private Romeo takes place in an all-male high school military academy. Eight cadets are left behind in the isolated school where a small group of boys from rival schools then act out the original Shakespeare play, using the original lines but with a homoerotic angle.
A gay love begins to blossom between Sam Singleton (Seth Numrich), who plays Romeo and Glenn Managan (Matt Doyle) who takes the part of Juliet. Both are beer-drinking jocks who recite their lines to each other in a number of contemporary settings including the locker room, garage and sports courts. The classic story has a very modern twist with YouTube videos and lip-synced indie rock music. At the same times it incorporates the script and all the romance, tenderness and viciousness of the original story.
The themes explored in the film include falling in love, loss of friendship and the confrontation of homophobia as well as examining perceptions of masculinity, gay youth and the military.
“Much better to focus on the tempestuous Mercutio (Hale Appleman, a standout), whose increasing volatility forms the perfect counterpoint to Mr. Doyle’s beaming Juliet and Seth Numrich’s sensitive Romeo. Punctuated by eerily static shots of empty basketball courts and deserted hallways, Mercutio’s blustering menace is as timeless as the romance he seeks to derail. ”
— Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
“No contemporary film that promotes love instead of war should be overlooked. Private Romeo will undoubtedly be regarded by some as a curio, but it’s a sweet, sympathetic and surprising one, highly recommended to the adventurous spirit in an enlightened and changing world.”
— Rex Reed, New York Observer
“Sticking closely to the written text (with basketballs and barbells supplying incidental props) and wisely not attempting to reimagine the specific circumstances that separate the lovers, a dynamite ensemble cast of young actors invests the Bard’s poetry with energetic immediacy.”
— Ronnie Scheib, Variety
Did You Know?
The cast of Private Romeo was eight actors playing 11 different characters. The director, Alan Brown, felt that Shakespeare’s story was the ideal one in which to explore issues such as gay equality and bullying. Brown also kept the gender references in the dialogue in order to remain true to Shakespeare’s language. Review our Gay Themed Films Here