In a politically charged adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, two amateur actors and their determined stage manager must take charge when their production faces a crisis due to funding cuts in the arts sector. Set in the contemporary arts world of Australia, Unfair Verona is a meta-theatrical production that brings to light the underappreciation and funding challenges faced by artists and performers in the industry. Jack Calver, the producer and director, revels in absurdism, while Elodie Westhoff, the stage manager, adds to the charm with her idealism. Through their unyielding commitment, the troupe seeks to present the version of the play that their sponsor desires, hoping to secure just enough payment to continue their artistic journey.
In the midst of this chaos, Juliet, played by Alyssa Peters, takes a bold stand against the sexist overtones present in Shakespeare’s writing. She feels disheartened by Juliet’s portrayal as a victim and subservient to Romeo. She quits the play temporarily, expressing her frustration with the industry and its treatment of women performers. Her emotional outburst serves as a powerful reflection of the larger issues faced by artists who battle gender bias and unequal opportunities.
Despite the mayhem, the troupe remains united in their quest to present a compelling performance that their sponsor would appreciate. Through their unyielding commitment to the art, they find creative solutions to their obstacles, coming up with imaginative ways to portray the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet.
As the performance progresses, the narrative seamlessly weaves in messages about the importance of funding in the arts sector and the need for greater appreciation of artists’ efforts. The show’s central message is clear: artists must unite to challenge the existing system and strive for a more inclusive and supportive arts community.
Among the many portrayals, a notable mention is the comedic rendition of Juliet’s nurse, portrayed as a rickety, elderly woman merrily poking the ground with her umbrella. Unfair Verona presents a cleverly devised piece that offers a delightful amalgamation of laughter and enchantment.
Their take on the renowned love story is nothing short of vibrant and comical. They playfully skip scenes as they please, citing the play’s length and the need to wrap up within an hour before the studio is claimed by dance students. Between the scenes’ transitions, the play is imbued with moments of introspection and delightful tomfoolery. Jack, caught in a fleeting moment of uncertainty, delves into a heartfelt monologue, questioning the path of his acting career.
Unfair Verona is a riotously funny, politically charged, and thought-provoking theatrical experience that both entertains and enlightens the audience. The Glassroom Theatre Company’s casting of a woman of colour as their Juliet to shed light upon the missteps within Shakespearean depiction of intimate relationships also provides insight into how archaic stories can be delivered to a progressive audience. This uproarious and fun-filled production brings attention to the underappreciation and lack of diverse funding in Australia’s arts community.