Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Well, to be honest, he’s thankfully nowhere to be found in the slapstick and often hilarious Not Romeo and Juliet, brought to you Melbourne-based theatre makes Fish & Twiner’s Bait Shop.
Instead, you find yourself stuck with Veronique and her long-suffering assistant Stephanie, two delightfully clueless protagonists who think they are presenting a “circus” show, one complete with such “incredible” acts as The Birds of Paradise Dance, The Beast, and The Inside Out Contortionist.
And yes, those quotation marks are intentional, because at its core Not Romeo and Juliet is an absurd romp filled with so much initial ridiculousness that you’ll be scratching your head while splitting your sides.
When the power dynamic between Veronique and Stephanie shifts – thanks to some good old William Shakespeare and unrequited queer love – what emerges is actually really sweet and uplifting yet still thoroughly silly… in the best possible way.
The character of Stephanie is an absolute pleasure to watch: their enthusiastically endearing energy never falters and brings so much comic relief to the fore that you find yourself falling in love with how ludicrous they are.
Light hearted and camp, Not Romeo and Juliet is a masterclass in surreal buffoonery.
There are moments when it feels as though the wheels of this show might fall off, and at times they do, but this is all part of the shtick: this show does not take itself seriously. In fact, it revels in its own tomfoolery.
Not Romeo and Juliet subverts the stiff upper lip and often times heteronormative content of Shakespeare, elevating some of the more farcical and queer elements of his work.
The result is a late night show that will leave you smiling, if not wonderfully confused, by the divine clown logic it contains.