Spoiler alert! At the end of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the two young star-crossed lovers kill themselves.
Perhaps calling the deaths of Romeo and Juliet a spoiler is a tad facetious, when you consider the Bard’s tragedy remains one of his most produced plays, and has been adapted countless times in other medium.
In the upcoming production of What If Romeo & Juliet… from Montreal’s DynamO Théâtre, the inevitability of the two meeting their untimely end is challenged through an adaptation that explores a possible alternative.
“In this production, DynamO literally turns one of Shakespeare’s most famous, universal conflicts on its head to explore what might happen if we step back and put down the daggers,” says Presentation House artistic director Kim Selody, who also worked as dramaturg in this co-production. “It’s an important, timely message, beautifully conveyed through highly skilled physical theatre.”
Using what it calls Theatre of Acrobatic Movement, DynamO Théâtre re-imagines Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet through the use of movement. Exploring the rivalry between the Capulet and Montague families, it asks the question: could there be another ending to this famous tale?
“We started by asking the question ‘Can each of us be a Romeo, a Juliet, a Tybalt or a Mercutio?'” says Selody. “We explored the relationships and friendships between the central young characters, and the inherent tension between romance and fighting.”
For writer and director Jackie Gosselin, there is little doubt as to the resonance What If Romeo & Juliet… has for today’s audiences.
“In Shakespeare’s play, it took the death of two young people for their adults to realize the blind hate driving them and the need to dismantle it,” explains Gosselin. “Everywhere on our planet, young children are victims of our fighting and wars. In this production, I realize that I can’t resolve all these conflicts, but theatre can be an essential tool to stimulate ideas that can bring about positive change.”
What If Romeo & Juliet… plays Presentation House Theatre (333 Chesterfield Ave, North Vancouver) January 25-27. Visit phtheatre.org for tickets and information.