ROMEO AND JULIET THE PANTOMIME
Finborough Theatre, London SW10
Opened ?? December, 1990

Romeo as thigh-slapping principal boy, Juliet with a wicked stepmother; Ugly Brothers Paris and Tybalt; Dame Nutsey; Fairy Laurence... you get the picture (yes, we see). The New Heritage company has created a thoroughly ludicrous romp that takes gleeful sideswipes not only at West Side Story but Take The High Road and (almost inevitably) Twin Peaks. The astonishing thing is that somehow it all works.

One minute a respectable ballad fashioned from Shakespeare's across-a-crowded-room lines on the lovers' first meeting, the next a slapstick balcony scene to the synthesized strains of "Nessun' Dorma" amazement at the cheek of these people soon gives way to joyous immersion in their nonsense. Every so often a few words from the Bard fight their way to the surface, only to be beaten furiously down again with a rubber truncheon. Even a slightly limp solution to the problem of resurrecting the dead lovers is overshadowed by the audacious unmasking of the true hero of the hour (and a half). The company work each other and the audience with energy and skill, always stopping that teeny step short of catastrophic excess. If you want to go to an adult Chrimbo show, make it this one it'll smack you in the chops for your pomposity, and you'll thank it.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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