Saturday 18 November 2017

Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit review

In 2016, a recurring trend began to appear in tv shows and film. That trend was the death of one partner in a queer relationship and the subsequent pain and turmoil of the surviving partner. In order to counter that, Jean Tong takes a queer relationship and defies conventions through signing, dancing and Shakespeare in her new show, Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit.

A dead lesbian chorus (nicely performed by Nisha Joseph, Pallavi Waghmode and Sasha Chong) each wears a t-shirt emblazoned with the words 'sacrificed' 'stabbed' and 'strangled' on them. Representing the queer people who have been killed whenever they find love and happiness, they attempt to thwart the blossoming love between Juliet (Margot Tanjutco) and Darcy (Louisa Wall) in order to save them from the pain and death that awaits them. Despite their best efforts, everything they do seems to draw the two women closer together.

Apart from the 'Bury Your Gays' trope that Tong explores, she also raises issues around gender and racial stereotypes and this is supported by the all-female cast used for the show, four of whom are people of colour. Darcy (played by the only Caucasian actor) has moved to Verona, where the majority of its residents are people of colour. Pointed remarks are made about Darcy's skin colour and the fact that she is dating an Asian woman and what this means for Juliet's family. However the effectiveness of this begins to falter when Tong utilises these same stereotypes as a way to get laughs, particularly through the portrayal of Juliet's mother and grandmother.

There are a variety of songs, spoken word and raps used to further highlight these issues, and while some of them are cleverly executed, they don't all seem to hit the mark with regards to the lyrics or with the particular style of song being used. However the spoken word performance does remain a firm highlight in this show

While much thought has gone into crafting this show that represents queer relationships as fun and exciting with a focus on representing people of colour, it has happened at the expense of a fun and exciting story for audiences to invest in. Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit is a great vehicle on educating people about queer relationships and representation but it falters on being a show that will entertain people.
Show Information

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne 
Season: until 26 November | Tues - Sun 8:30pm  
Tickets: $35 Full | $25 Conc 
Bookings: Poppy Seed Festival

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