Boundless Delight: Not Romeo and Juliet

5 stars

Basking in the joyous and ludicrous has never felt so good.

In Not Romeo and Juliet two clowns, alike in buffoonery, transform Shakespeare’s text in a way that leaves us all with wide smiles and full hearts.

Image courtesy of Hannah Spence

Image courtesy of Hannah Spence

As we watch on, the pair bounce off each other in a mutually antagonistic display of exuberance.

Playing off the framework of a maniacal ringmaster and their long-suffering assistant, they create a dynamic that taps into classical clowning and launches well beyond it.

This is a show that innovates and celebrates, taking pathos and comedy to new extremes.

Kimberley Twiner and Lily Fish, nonpareils of queer clowning, play Veronique and Stephanie. Characters without limitation, the duo are at home in their setting of the circus where nothing, really, can be overstated.

Clowning is so much more than an art of exaggeration, though, and these performers illustrate the depth of the artform with exceptional skill. In even their most outrageously melodramatic moments, it’s the subtleties of physical and vocal expression, visual connection with the audience, and engagement with the space that have us entranced.

Sharing the stage as well as performing small solo bits, the ringmaster and assistant gradually shift from playful disparity to collaborative parity.

Masterful use of running gags adds another layer to the show, which satirises the conflicting priorities of production compared to performance, with Veronique attempting greater and greater feats that place undue expectations on Stephanie.

Physical comedy, grotesquery, and guileless playfulness come together in this truly remarkable narrative.

As the performers shift from full-body explosions of movement to the conveyance of deeply meaningful experience with little more than a raised eyebrow, we’re treated to an impeccable, nuanced, and spectacular show.

Not Romeo and Juliet is brimming with energy, wonder, and exquisitely crafted commentary. Barely a moment passes when the audience isn’t somewhere between chuckling and roaring with laughter, delighted by the unrestrained antics of the two performers.

Bringing female and queer narratives to the fore, and repurposing Shakespeare’s text with finesse, Twiner and Fish have created a show that’s for everyone in the most glorious of ways.

Tickets available from the FRINGE WORLD website.