Written by LAURA PIETROBON
Directed by Gabrielle Metcalf
With a little help from The Great Bard himself, @shakespeare.com mixes the well known story of Romeo and Juliet (and a little of the story of Macbeth) to explore the impact of Facebook, online gaming, texting and the myriad of other forms of communication on how we communicate with everyone around us.
Cobweb the Fairy (from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) comes across Puck, a computer/robot-type thing which is an expert on all of Shakespeare’s plays. Cobweb and Puck decide to go back in time and bring Shakespeare to the future. Puck has some interesting idea that it would like to discuss with the Bard, including how the plays can be improved with the aid of technology.
One of the most outstanding features of the play was the comparison of Shakespeare’s well known and admired dialogue with the short, sharp and shiny language of today. The inclusion of Shakespearean insults was particularly smart, especially the inclusion of a favourite of mine, “Thou art a cream faced loon!”. A montage of scenes from the story of Romeo and Juliet set to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” was surprisingly touching as well, and the text message version of Romeo and Juliet’s balcony scene (which flashed onto a screen at the back of the stage after the actors had spoken Shakespeare’s lines) was particularly hilarious.
The cast used the space well, interacting with the audience in the first row and walking up the aisles to deliver their lines. They were a good cast, with strong performances from Patrick Barton as William Shakespeare and Lauren Anzini as Cobweb.
@shakespeare.com is not merely Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth with technology, rather it looks at the way that communication has changed (for better or worse) while using these well known stories to demonstrate that. @shakespeare.com was trying to make a larger commentary about the impact of social media and technology on our lives and the way we communicate – always an interesting topic to be explored. Yet I felt that in that department, they just missed the mark and the overall message fell a little flat. I think the play would have benefited by focusing just on the story of Romeo and Juliet and how that would have changed if social media had been around. The whole robot-time-travel thing confused me slightly, and felt a bit pointless.
Nonetheless, @shakespeare.com was definitely a hit with the audience that night, and had some enjoyable moments.
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