Juliet starts play-hopping, searching for allies among Shakespeare’s other works.
By Ben Blyth
Juliet: A Revenge Comedy is the latest production from Vancouver’s Monster Theatre. The story follows an increasingly sentient Juliet as she comes to realize that she is trapped in someone else’s play. The premise takes a long time to get going and eventually jolts to life when Juliet starts play-hopping, searching for allies among Shakespeare’s other works to join in with her quest for the death of the author. So far, so Roland Barthes.
While there are plenty of jokes here, however, much of the material is sadly reductive. As one actor valiantly attempts to play four Shakespearean heroines at a time, the audience may also be forgiven for losing track of who is along for this ride, and when. Rather than reclaiming or empowering Shakespeare’s underwritten female characters, this had the unfortunate effect of flattening complex and multifaceted roles into stock mannerisms and simplistic traits. It is particularly unfortunate that, on more than one occasion, the remaining trait was “being perpetually horny.”
Writing back to Shakespeare opens up some fantastic potential territory for a Fringe show. But while the company is comprised of talented and energetic performers, the play was not the thing.