Putting a bizarre twist on Shakespeare classic as & Juliet brings laughs to Manchester's Opera House

Miriam-Teak Lee performing in & Juliet
Miriam-Teak Lee performing in & Juliet

The tale of Romeo and Juliet has seen many classic and unconventional interpretations over the years, across many different mediums and genres.

From dance, to film, to theatre, we’ve seen it all - or at least we thought we had.

& Juliet at the Opera House in Manchester

& Juliet at the Opera House in Manchester

The latest adaptation & Juliet, at the Opera house in Manchester, brings a whole new perspective to the iconic tragedy, starting the story from the final scene and putting the leading lady at the forefront of the action in the most surreal and eclectic way imaginable.

Directed by Luke Sheppard, this is a postmodern piece of theatre that explores the concept of Juliet surviving the story of the ill-fated and star-crossed lovers and setting out on her own quest for freedom, self expression and love.

The plot, the integration of famous pop songs and some of the staging can only be described as completely bizarre and although refreshing and hilarious at first, it does tire by the middle of Act One.

Yes, the set list screams that this is not a show that should be taken too seriously, but even the cheesiest of the musical genres - Mamma Mia, Legally Blonde, We Will Rock You - build on characterisation and explore emotion within the audience.

Song after song is shoehorned in at any given opportunity and when combined with continuous farce, it does mean that the poignant and potentially powerful themes of female empowerment, sexuality and equality are lost and undermined.

That said, the casts and creatives have worked together to create some impressive moments, both vocally and visually. While let down by the fact that the production’s formation and characterisations are more similar to what you would expect from a pantomime, it is apparent that a huge investment of money and time have gone into this show so far.

Miriam-Teak Lee as Juliet, Oliver Tompsett as Shakespeare, Jordan Luke Gage as Romeo and in particular Cassidy Janson as Anne are stunning singers and have produced some catchy and unique versions of some of the most well-known pop songs of the 90s and 00s, from Katy Perry’s Roar to Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone. The choreography, set design are pyrotechnics too, are slick and eye-catching.

This is far from a tragedy, but neither is it quite the finished product. While the pieces of the jigsaw are there, more needs to be done before the West End debut in November to make it less one-dimensional and more of a Shakespearean success.