Romeo & Juliet in a Bar (Shakespeare on Tap): 2022 Fringe review

Sohrab Haghverdi as Romeo and Gabey Walburn as Juliet. Photo by John C. Hawthorne.  Instagram: @johnchawthorne

Shakespeare on Tap sees the Globe theatre, way back in the day, as “a f*cking madhouse.” Artistic Producer, Jonathan Schlieman, says of their show, “It’s not a play.  It’s a party, where people happen to be doing Shakespeare… Halfway between Shakespeare and Clown.” The troupe has a motto:  Serious actors,  No director, One rehearsal, and done in a bar. I wonder, “How will this work?” Yet they certainly know their stuff.  Their hit and run philosophy is One show and out!  So, readers, if you weren’t there on Sunday you can’t see this clever and unique performance.

The audience sit at tables placed around the edges of the second floor room at Victoria Freehouse. Some hang out at the upstairs bar. Patrons are encouraged to bring up both food and drinks from downstairs. Before the show, a game for the audience is announced: One side of the room was designated Capulets, the other, Montagues. One person from each side, blindfolded and turned around five times, had to get to the center of the room. The first to do so claimed the prize– a tiny airline bottle of liquor.

A little bit naughty at times, semi-Shakespearean lingo is mixed with a good deal of TomFoolery. A few famous lines are actually kept, i.e., “You kiss by the book.” But when Mercutio and Tybalt get together it’s: “Oh shit. Nobody move! It’s going to be a fight.” And, Benvolio:  “No, cuz, I’d rather weep.”   Then there’s Paris, wearing a green lighted-up bowtie…and a propeller beanie.  In the Balcony Scene, Romeo stands on a folding chair borrowed from an audience member.  This bright laid-back show with its wonderful lingo, is, very unfortunately, a one-off.  I’m really glad I saw it.

[The Victoria Freehouse, 10 S. Front St.] September 11, 2022;


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