At some stage, the usual superlatives don’t suffice, so you throw your words into a Yahtzee cup and see what shakes out. Which is probably why I can safely say Romeo is not the Only Fruit is a tremendous show, a meta-textual melange, and an inter-textual pavlova.
Jean Tong’s script is a marvel – a glorious subversion of a Shakespearean staple that lays out the clichés of romantic movies and the tropes of the fates of queer lovers like it was a forensic examination of fiction instead of the raw musical fun that works its charming magic on-stage.
While the sweet and tentative love story between Juliet (Margot Tanjutco) and Darcy (Louise Wall) is the play’s beating heart, the engine driving the story forward is the chorus of Stabbed, Strangled, and Sacrificed (Sasha Chong, Nisha Joseph, and Pallavi Waghmode).
These ‘Kindly Ones’ are fates of a particular variety – specifically the fate that more often than not seems to befall LGBTQI characters that dare to become romantically entangled; death.
Thus, the intentions of this meddlesome chorus are honourable in a way – keep our heroes alive by ensuring they never fall in love -even if they ultimately measure success by counting broken hearts. It’s a compelling and hilarious delight, then, when their attempts to drive Juliet and Darcy apart only end up bringing them together.
There’s an inherent intimacy when performing at The Butterfly Club that the play certainly benefits from. However, at some point the actors still have to do the hard work of engaging the audience and telling a compelling story, which they do in terrific fashion.
The musical pieces were fantastic. Giving Juliet a ‘muzak’ sort of theme, while Darcy is accompanied by more of an Evanescence-type score, was an example of many of the nice touches found throughout.
There were oversized two-dimensional food stuffs, anthropomorphic arcade machines, and interpretative beat poetry, yet the play always retained a quality of authenticity and truth, speaking to both the calibre of the performances as well as the text they were working from. This is a ‘good’un’.
Romeo is Not the Only Fruit
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Performance: Tuesday 14 November 2017 – 8.30pm
Season continues to 26 November 2017
For more information, visit: www.poppyseedfestival.com for details.
Image: Nisha Joseph, Sasha Chong, Margot Tanjutco feature in Romeo is Not the Only Fruit – photo by Bede McKenna
Review: David Collins