There’s this somewhat depressing tendency in television and cinema to be completely okay with graphic violence, drugs, profanity, even sex, but the minute two women start making eyes at each other, suddenly everyone’s insistent that no, they’re just gals being gal pals, unless it’s some important narrative point – a “lesbian after school special”, if you will – or they’re the token gay character (“Hello! FABULOUS~!”). Lesbians? What lesbians?
61% of Australians (or, at least 61% who returned the postal survey) recently indicated that, hmm, actually, we do believe in Lesbians. Enter Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit from writer, director and lyricist Jean Tong, a “…tongue-in-cheek, fist-in-air response to [the depiction of queer people in the media], because we’re pissed off, charming, hilarious and write catchy songs.”
On a very basic level, the show is a queer, modern day adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, sans the pretentiousness of Baz Luhrmann’s ’96 attempt, with lashings of humour, well recognised tropes, and, as Tong has said herself, catchy songs. Juliet (Margot Tanjutco) is a young Asian woman, constantly pressured by her overbearing mother and loving, but slightly daft, grandma to find a nice boy. As a Dead Lesbian chorus sing about how they hate love stories because they all end in death, Juliet has a “meet cute” with Darcy (Louisa Wall), recently moved to town after a series of her ex flames have passed away.
From there the story follows a predictable path – tropes galore! – but there are some hilarious subversions – particularly a scene in which Darcy is invited to dinner, lampooning the “ask your foreign friend a question” bit – proving an awareness of the genre that delights the audience and keeps things feeling fresh. And you may thing you know how it’s going to end, but boy have you got a surprise coming!
It’s a fitting adaptation, in that Romeo & Juliet has always been a story of “forbidden” love, and it’s no surprise they’ve been performing sold out shows; a chord has been struck, and it’s clearly resonating with a vast number of people. See it while you can!
Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit stars Sasha Chong, Nisha Joseph, Margot Tanjutco, Pallavi Waghmode and Louisa Wall, and is at 8:30pm at the Butterfly Club until Sunday 26 November. Tickets are $35 Full, $25 concession and are available from the Poppy Seed Theatre Festival.