15
Nov
13

> < R&J

 

>< R&J

La Boite Indie & Breadbeard Collective

with the support of QPAC

The Roundhouse

13 – 30 November 2013

 

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

 

Ten people aged 18-25 gather in a room. They play, dance, fight, kiss and talk about life, love, violence, sex and death. Taking Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, they remix the work by hanging new meat on the skeleton of the story. As the tale takes hold, the party dies down and the group sees the bloody consequences of their experiments.

 

Helpmann Award nominee Lucas Stibbard leads a cast of Brisbane’s bravest emerging artists in this deconstruction and reconstruction of the greatest love story ever told.

 

r&j_fbheader

 

>< R&J and its opening night has been awaited by many with baited breath. Even one of my own sources in the theatre community was contemplating travelling from the Gold Coast to see it. A lot of excitement was riding on this one. Would it fly or flop? Generally I avoid asking this question before going into a show. But I couldn’t help myself this time. I’ll tell you now, >< R&J soared.

 

This show truly needs to be seen to be believed. It gets meta, it gets comical, it gets personal, it becomes interactive, it becomes multi-media designed and explosive, it focuses on meta and the Real again. It becomes emotional and bends and turns and laughs and changes and lights up. By the end of the show you feel like you have befriended the cast. You come for the tragedy, but you stay for the interconnected stories you thought you’d never laugh or cry about.

 

This is what contemporary theatre should aspire to be.

 

When the show first opened I did have a moment of doubt. The team employs words and imagery on the screen. This is well and good and they made a solid delivery in this media form, but it is a common hallmark of a QUT production. It had me concerned this would be a rehashing of a Vena Cava production and nothing particularly unique. I also choked on the hipster vibes at first. References in the first ten minutes to High Fidelity and covering the song Love Will Us Apart by Joy Division on a ukulele is very cliché hipster chic. All they would’ve needed was The Smiths playing and a guest appearance from Michael Cera and they would have all the pieces of a hipster set.

 

But this retelling of Romeo and Juliet thankfully did not head in that direction. It’s a show that engages Y Generation more than anyone, but it maintains sincerity and inclusion for all the audience without getting bulked down in being too “quirky”.

 

The physicality of the show is superb.

 

The cast in their ever-changing roles was so fluid to transform. Each and everyone of the cast could change from a bum to an astronaut if they wished and I would not have noticed. But there are no astronauts in this show – only star-crossed lovers and those around them.

 

I lost count how many pop culture references I found. But the songs, the stunts, the lights and the burning creativity of this piece keeps you alert and hungry.

 

I have seen many performances of Romeo and Juliet. Some were entertaining, some were true to the text and some were absolutely horrible. I vowed never to say this about any version of a Shakespearian classic, and certainly not one as well known as Romeo and Juliet.

 

This is by far the most impressive performance of the text I have seen yet.

 

I’m looking forward to seeing what The Breadbeard Collective comes up with next.

 

R&JBreadbeard

 

How many La Boite Indie shows did you see in 2013?

 

SIX INDEPENDENT PRODUCTIONS AT LA BOITE IN 2013


ONE SEASON AT QPAC IN 2014

_________________________

 

La Boite Indie is one of Australia’s leading platforms for independent theatre.

 

This year you’re invited to help La Boite choose one of the six independent groups to move to QPAC in 2014.

VOTE HERE

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