Shakespeare as you’ve never seen it before sees the Montagues and Capulets as white-trash Kiwi families feuding in a trailer park (a “boganised” Waipu camp ground). It’s also the musical version, a mad pop, hip-hop and rock opera that will defy expectation, with weird and wonderful art direction, plenty of visual gags – including a character who gets around on a fitness ball – and several scenes that, viewed out of context, would no doubt seem extremely odd. It also has a good cast of misfits, not to mention its young star-crossed lovers, played convincingly by Derya Parlak and Christopher Landon.
Composers Michael O’Neill and Peter van der Fluit wrote the music first and then dubbed it into the film, so there is a minute disconnect between the audio and visual. It’s jarring but amusing hearing Shakespeare in hip-hop or soft rock form at first, but also an ingenious way to focus the attention on the story.
That said, some of the text gets lost in the mix, many of the longer lines poured into musical phrases that aren’t big enough to handle them. And essentially it’s a one-joke film that, by the third act, has well and truly made its point. Purists might complain that the light-hearted treatment trashes the text but for the most part it’s fun and proves that Shakespeare’s story really is timeless.
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