Lost Dog’s production of Juliet and Romeo is utterly sublime.
The two-hander recontextualises the tale to modern day and asks what might have happened had Romeo hesitated before taking his own life, giving Juliet enough time to wake.
The answer is an ambivalent marriage. The star-crossed lovers soon realise that they know very little about each other and perhaps aren’t so well suited.
Now in their 40s, the couple attend marriage counselling, which is where the show opens – with the audience filling the role of the therapist.
The production is wickedly funny, cleverly subverting and playing with its source material, as it carefully deconstructs the tropes embedded within the tragic tale.
The use of physical theatre throughout is superb, with one of the most hilarious depictions of sex on stage deftly choreographed.
For people unfamiliar with physical theatre, it might feel a little unusual at first, but this is an incredibly accessible production and the choreography is effortlessly weaved into the show to the extent that it becomes utterly integral.
The most ingenious device used is the introduction of Shakespeare. In this universe he is a friend of a friend who hears about their story, and decides to capture it in a play – albeit with an edited ending for dramatic purposes.
Juliet grows increasingly obsessed with the tragic drama she feels her life should have had, not one where her daughter pees on her leg, but as a figure immortalised as the pinnacle of romance.
Romeo, on the other hand, is all too aware that their relationship is founded in a misunderstanding: he was never going to take his life, he paused because he realised he could cope without her.
As the tension between Juliet’s fantasies and Romeo’s realism grows, the humour wanes and we are left with a stark portrait of two people with drastically differing perspectives on their marriage.
Both performers, Ben Duke as Romeo and Solene Weinachter as Juliet, are a delight to watch with an incredible, natural chemistry propelling the audience through their journey.
Duke and Weinachter co-devised the piece, a process which has translated into their beautifully understated, natural, and believable performances. These are a pair who know their characters inside out: every look, gesture, and wince is utterly relatable and compelling.
The show is currently touring the UK and is genuinely a must-see. It is rare to find a show so moving, funny, and overwhelmingly honest.