Such tweet sorrow

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

WTF Theatre reinvents Romeo & Juliet

By Adam Tatelman, Staff Writer

WTF theatre, a Vancouver-based company known for its experimental performance ideas, has announced a new rendition of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to be performed entirely on social media.

Instead of performing the play live on stage in front of an audience, the actors will create Facebook and Twitter accounts for their characters and communicate all their lines via public posts and status updates.

According to the director, Xavier Perimental, the play has been rewritten to emulate modern text talk instead of Shakespearean language. He hopes this will strengthen the bond between the performers and the audience.

“We want the audience to feel like they’re watching an authentic modern drama,” he said. “Kids today just don’t relate to all that Shake-speak, so it’s our job to make this story fit the times.”

Audience members are encouraged to leave comments on each post; if they have the opportunity, the actors will respond in-character to as many comments as possible. “We want to see selfies and emojis,” said Perimental. “Anything that will help the audience feel like they’re a part of the show. However, we have a no sexting policy, so please don’t hit on the actors.” Perimental excused himself, returning to the rehearsal in progress on his iPhone.

The plot has gone through some significant changes. As with the original play, the first act begins with a street brawl between servants of the Montague and Capulet clans, who are sworn enemies. The scene is presented through a YouTube video, which the actors leave comments on. The Capulet party is held at Status Nightclub, and Romeo Montague attends in secret. The night’s events are communicated through a series of tweets and photos, including Romeo’s meeting with Juliet Capulet.

Rather than an exchange of sonnets leading to the famous balcony scene in the Capulet orchard, Romeo and Juliet drink to excess and have an inebriated one-night stand. They are quite surprised the next morning, but that doesn’t stop them from tweeting all about it. The Montague and Capulet families are furious to hear that their children have eloped. In defence of Juliet’s honour, her brother Tybalt doxxes Romeo, inciting the audience to bombard him with death threats. In response, Romeo gets Tybalt banned from Facebook.

When Romeo and Juliet name one another in their relationship statuses, the Capulets hack Romeo’s account as revenge. Juliet deletes her own account in an act of solidarity, and the two attempt to run away together. The last video clip in the show is that of a tragic car accident on the highway, where the bodies are identified as the two lovers. According to the autopsy report, they had both been drinking heavily before the crash. Shaken by the senseless tragedy, the Montagues and Capulets put up a Facebook memorial page for Romeo and Juliet.

Unfortunately for WTF theatre, their visionary new interpretation of Romeo and Juliet is projected to be a total commercial failure, since social media memberships are free, and users are not permitted to charge for access to their content. When pressed for comment, Perimental merely shrugged and said “That’s show business. Nobody’s ever ready to see anything new.”