Romeo & Juliet is a classic love story. It has inspired many different adaptations over the years including Baz Luhrmann’s famous film and the stage musical & Juliet, which ponders what could have happened if Juliet didn’t die. Unfair Verona is another new interpretation, in a style largely cut from the same cloth as The Play That Goes Wrong.
Glassroom Theatre produce the Eezu Tan directed show, with company founder Jack Calver making his debut as both performer and producer. Joined onstage by NIDA graduates, Alyssa Peters and Elodie Westhoff, the trio tackle more than over 20 characters (including several puppets). The future looks bright for these emerging artists as they manage to strike the right chord between comedy stylings and emotive feels.
Fun and chaotic, Unfair Verona is a play within a play. We see both on-stage and off-stage politics colliding, as two amateur actors meet an overly-anxious stage manager eager to play lead. At times the proceedings are true to the original story, spouting Shakespearean English and telling the tragedy of Juliet and her Romeo. Next minute, they’ve thrown in some Britney Spears classics and PowerPoint presentations. The end result is a truly tasty mix.
Often played for pure laughs, Unfair Verona has a bright, cheeky sense of humour. There are tongue-in-cheek jokes about Bell Shakespeare, a fellow company (conveniently located a mere stone’s throw away) also producing Shakespeare with a modern twist, as well as some satirical references to arts funding, and the relevance of this story (and those of other dead, white men) in 2023. It all makes for a fresh and interesting take on this ye olde play.
Offering an exciting new take on Romeo & Juliet, the success of Unfair Verona is no mean feat, dragging Shakespeare into a messy modern age, where its beating heart is a prevailing attitude of “The show must go on.” With some clear-eyed satirical moments, this is a fresh young spin on a tragic romance by some very talented younger players.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Unfair Verona played at Sydney Dance Theatre until July 22.