For those who attended Director Chris Nickerson’s, ’90, rendition of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Phelps Mansion Museum, they were in for an innovative experience. While the production takes place in a mansion, it is not presented on your typical stage. The spatial layout of the mansion allows for a small audience to view this performance with only eight cast members. This intimate crowd is coupled with an even more intimate setting as the show takes place throughout the various rooms in the mansion.

Nickerson explained why the Phelps Mansion Museum encapsulates the atmosphere of a Shakespearean play.

“The reason I think the Phelps Mansion Museum is a wonderful setting for Shakespeare is the fact that Shakespeare’s language is heightened language,” Nickerson said. “It is poetry, and the Phelps Mansion has an atmosphere of luxury — the beautiful woodwork, the large spaces speak of the past and opulence.”

The scenes shift from the ballroom to the dining hall, to Juliet’s room upstairs and back downstairs for the lovers’ tragic conclusion. The audience is right behind each character, looking over their shoulders and into rooms as an omniscient observer. Attendees also had an opportunity to interact with the characters during moments of breaking the fourth wall when a character may reach out to sometimes speak to the audience or even draw them into scenes for direct engagement.

Kirsten Whistle, ‘19 and the actress of Juliet, explained the impact of this constant shift between rooms.

“Being in the mansion and moving room to room has made it easier to live in Juliet’s circumstances,” Whistle said. “With this being an immersive experience, I get to bring the audience in on something so intimate and vulnerable. They will get to share in my grief, joy, anger, love and everything in between.”

The immersion of the show was amplified through the emotional performance of the cast. Shakespeare’s dramas are not for the weak of heart, as tragedy unfolds in many of his tales, and “Romeo and Juliet” is a poignant example. With the star-crossed lovers and feuding families, the play delves deep into the complexities of love, fate and consequence.

The audience is captivated by intense moments of battling and quarreling choreographed by combat choreographer, Joshua Sedelmeyer, 34, of Endicott. However, these scenes do not drag the elements of violence throughout the entire performance and the audience can expect a balance of humor and candor.

“The concept behind this production is very lighthearted and allows some separation from the dramatic elements due to repeated breaks from the play’s illusion,” Sedelmeyer wrote in an email. “Those breaks actually create some more silly, playful moments in what may often feel like a heavy plot.”

The immersive production offers a unique experience for audiences to connect with Shakespeare’s timeless tale of love and tragedy. Nickerson’s innovative approach, combined with the emotional performances of the cast, brings the story to life in a way that resonates deeply with viewers.

Ryan Canavan, 34, described his main takeaways from playing his character, Romeo.

“My biggest hope would be for audiences to find some connection with Romeo, even if only as a reflection on someone’s love-stricken youth or recalling their own teenage romance,” Canavan wrote in an email. “Still yet, there is an abundance of humor and tragedy within Romeo on a spectrum that, so long as I portray him well enough, should find its effect on a viewer.”

The next showings of the performance are on March 1 and 2 at 7 p.m., as well as March 3 at 2 p.m.