Presented by Monster Theatre
What if Juliet doesn’t die? It sounds like a gimmick. And it is, but Juliet: A Revenge Comedy takes the ubiquitous “what if” model of re-working classic texts and takes it beyond revisionism. This is gloriously clever fan-fiction, offering up a well-executed, meta-theatrical event that fits an astonishing amount of material into an hour—and without ever feeling rushed!
At the top, we meet William Shakespeare (Bruce Horak). He’s quite full of himself, though Horak gives this egomaniacal blow-hard a certain bumbling charm. He quickly runs off, frantic to stop some sort of theatrical disaster. We soon discover he’s about to loose some of his power.
Lili Beaudoin as Juliet and Carly Pokoradi as—quite literally—everyone else, give us an abridged version of Romeo and Juliet with some revealing contemporary asides thrown in. These jabs at plot holes or the problematic implications of a modern context are exceptionally well-integrated.
At the tragic finale, we get a stylized rewind segment and the whole story begins again. It’s slightly more truncated this time, the plot beginning to feel increasingly tiresome and absurd. They go through these motions ad nauseam until finally: we fixate on the absolute senselessness of Juliet’s dagger to the heart. Just when the familiar, over-played moment is at peak farce, she throws the dagger away.
From here, she wanders through the bard’s canon, interrupting iconic moments of women off-ing themselves, and collecting those women for a quest. We get Lady Macbeth, Ofelia, Cleopatra and, eventually, Miranda—the only one of the lot spared from endless dying, though she has her own hardship. They bound about the stage as they seek a new purpose, beyond the narrative restrictions of their home texts—and the expectations of several hundred years worth of audiences.
There is no set except for a riser to enable some play with levels, yet the action feels epic. Beaudoin and Pokoradi fill the huge stage with an energy and compelling dynamic that feels outrageous and expansive. Particularly impressive is Pokoradi’s vivid portrayal of four distinct characters in a single scene. No costume changes, just evocative body language and vocal gymnastics.
Written by Pippa Mackie and Ryan Gladstone, this is an affectionate, playful rebuke of the familiar tropes typified by Shakespeare’s female characters. Gladstone’s direction amplifies text and movement, creating a rich, performative spectacle.
Juliet: A Revenge Comedy is madcap and cathartic feminist adventure.