The Cultch presents Monster Theatre's
Juliet: a Revenge Comedy by Pippa Mackie & Ryan Gladstone

When and Where Feb 8 - 23, 2023, Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sat. 17th at 2pm and 7.30pm & Sundays at 2 pm | Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables St., Vancouver

Director Ryan Gladstone Original Score Drew Jurecka Set Design Alexandra Caprara Lighting Design Jon Paterson & Jude Weismiller Costume Design Nita Bowerman Stage Manager Taylor MacKinnon

Cast: Shakespeare Ryan Gladstone Juliet Lili Beaudoin The rest of the cast Carly Pokoradi

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

Juliet: a Revenge Comedy is a giddy romp conducted by one of Shakespeare’s most memorable heroines. A deliciously post-modern Juliet (Lili Beaudoin) rebels against the constant re-iteration of her inevitable suicide and breaks through the fourth wall – visible to her - to go on a quest to write her own life. She stumbles on a book dropped by William Shakespeare. (Ryan Gladstone as a wildly improbably Shakespeare by the way, big and bursting, a bit clumsy and dressed as a woman.) When Juliet opens the book to Macbeth, she is transported to Scotland and meets Lady Macbeth, washing and washing her hands. Juliet convinces her to break free from this compulsion which they see as coming from an outside force – namely William Shakespeare. Some more reading in the book whisks them both away to Denmark, just in time to rescue Ophelia from drowning. Juliet, only 13 as she reminds everyone often, and Ophelia, a rather wimpy girl, instantly become besties. Next they dip into Antony and Cleopatra and are transported to Egypt where the free spirited Cleopatra is easier to convince to go on an adventure, though she still hankers for Antony and devastatingly, her snakes wither and die. Cleopatra’s principal attributes are sexiness and snakes..

Surprisingly they next find themselves on an island with Miranda, not destined for death. Home-schooled by a wizard wizard father, Miranda is the quintessential school-girl of a certain type. She instantly conceives a pash for Cleopatra .

During their adventures the young women have been pursued by a person who wants the book. Over-the-top disguises as a witch or a wizard fail miserably for Shakespeare and he finally appears as himself.

Although this is a witty play, full of quotes, often with new readings, you don’t need to be a Shakespeare scholar to enjoy the jokes and the mayhem, but it helps. Especially when the jokes are not actually spoken, as, for example, when Juliet is drawn across the stage by an invisible force – no lines, and no dagger before her, and yet….

Our heroines are limited to just one or two characteristics each except for Juliet who understands more as the play goes on, and it would seem, outgrows being 13. Nevertheless, Juliet: a Revenge Comedy has some whorthwhile things to say about Shakespeare’s female characters and modern feminism at the same time as it comments lightly but effectively on authors, authorship and creativity.

Nita Bowerman's costumes crossed usefully sandy shades for Pokoradi and Beaudoin with outrageous wigs and gowns for Shakespeare both in and out of disguise. Alexandra Caprara's spare set shows what can be done with very little and is simply lit by the team of Jon Paterson and Jude Weissmiller. Director Ryan Gladstone's pacing is impeccable

This is a laugh-out-loud comedy, not so much because it is chock full of theatre tropes – the wit, the low humour, the helter-skelter running around and popping up in the wrong places, the over-acting and the bad disguises -as by the quality of the acting. Ryan Gladstone is a comically dishevelled Shakespeare. Lili Beaudoin has a wicked look in her eye, a quizzical smile, a mobile face and a splendid variety of pace. Carly Pokoradi plays all the other parts, beginning with Juliet’s Nurse, Lady Cap, County Paris, Friar Lawrence, Romeo – and that is just in the first few minutes of the show. And she does it all without hats or scarves or other props. The remaining characterizations which must be reckoned up by dozens are equally clear and, as needed, comic. Three cheers for all. Absolutely wizard.

© 2024 Elizabeth Paterson