Monday, August 7, 2023

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2023: "Romeo & Juliet Are Dead"


Show: 15


By: Blinking Eye Theatre

Created by: Riley Parham

Location: Rarig Arena

Summary: A play that explores what happens after the ending of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, when they're together in the afterlife.

Highlights: I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, and was utterly charmed by it. Riley Parham, an Augsburg grad now based in Portland, wrote what sounds like a lost Shakespeare play, and also plays the role of Romeo. When Juliet (played by fellow Portland artist Ezra Veenstra) joins Romeo in the afterlife, where he's been counting the... counts until she arrived, they speak to each other in flowery rhymes that sound like an extension of Romeo and Juliet. But when they realize that they can draw things into existence with the chalk they found there, they begin to discover that maybe they want different things in life, or death. It turns out you don't really know each other very well after just five days together and only talking about love, not about who you really are and the things you like (leapfrog). Then Juliet finds out about Rosaline, and begins to wonder just what words of love mean to Romeo. This is where things turn modern, as Juliet loves Romeo but doesn't want him to be her whole life. It's a clever concept that's beautifully written and performed, with no props other than chalk and two mysterious rings, and sepia toned period costumes (designed by Ezra) that allow for lots of movement around the space and a little fighting. This is Shakespeare fan fic done right.