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Where: Historic Cultch Theatre, 1895 Venables St., Vancouver
Tickets: From $29 at thecultch.com and 604-251-1363
Did you ever think that Juliet got the worst of it? In Juliet: A Revenge Comedy, by Pippa Mackie and Ryan Gladstone, Shakespeare’s heroine questions having to die at the age of 13 for a boy she just met. Her existential crisis leads her to confront more than a dozen other female Shakespeare characters. A hit at the Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringe festivals in 2019, the play went on a four-city Fringe tour in 2022, selling out the shows at all its stops. The play also earned six Jessie Award nominations and a win for actress Carly Pokoradi, who returns to play a dozen characters in Monster Theatre’s latest production, which also features Lili Beaudoin as Juliet, Gladstone as Shakespeare, a new score musical, new stage. Design and new lighting design. We spoke to Pokoradi about comedy.
Q: When reading the original works, did you find that some of the characters had a lot more depth than others?
TO: Shakespeare wrote quite complicated and nuanced female characters. It’s not that they were one-dimensional. But Lady Macbeth disappears halfway through Macbeth. So you have this incredibly complicated, meaty, juicy character who essentially incites the action of the play. She is the one who drives everything forward, the one who provides the ideas. And then when we’re done with her, she dies offstage, and after one of her most brilliant monologues, one that’s like watching someone go crazy onstage. Then it’s like, oh, yeah, it’s over. A servant says, ‘Hey my Lord, your wife is gone.’ It’s not that they aren’t well written, but they don’t get more than what serves the story.
Q: How does that relate to Juliet’s crisis in A Comedy of Vengeance? It seems that her complaint is along the same lines: What are you doing to my character?
TO: We think of Romeo and Juliet as a couple, but if you read the text, she is the one who, at 13 years old, says: ‘Hey friend, let’s get married.’ Let’s do it.’ Then Romeo becomes hotheaded and ruins everything by killing his cousin. And she says, “Okay, I’ll figure it out.” “I’ll make a plan.” And it’s not the best thought out plan. They both end up committing suicide. And that’s because they are 13 years old. This is the first time they have experienced this kind of all-consuming feeling. Who should make life decisions at 13 years old? Nobody. Then she dies before him and he gets the last hurrah.
Q: You can do a Scottish accent like Lady Macbeth. How fun is that?
TO: It’s so fun. He changes the words a lot and a lot of the character comes from that. We’ve talked about doing the show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which would be a pinnacle. But then he would have an audience of Scots. I’m also a linguist, so I know there are a lot of Scottish accents and no general ones. I don’t know if mine leans more towards the Glasgow language or what, but I know that if I were doing this in front of a Scottish audience I would feel like I have to up my game and be more specific about this.
Q: How important is timing to the play, especially between you and Lili, who plays Juliet?
TO: I was just going over my lines and repeating them out loud, thinking, I have to get this back in my brain. But it’s like that in my body that sometimes when we’re rehearsing, I move around Lily or I take a step and my brain falls behind a little bit, but my body knows: OK, you’re going to be the next character and this is what she does. . And then come the words. It’s a fun balance to play, having them alive and reacting to each other, but also being together on this fast-moving roller coaster. We have our seat belts on and we know it and we can play within this really fast-paced dance that we do with each other.
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