On Friday the 13th, writer Matt Ritchey unleashed, what could be the missing folio of Shakespeare’s tragic lovers Romeo and Juliet (Luke Wesley Baldridge and Gail Friedland) .The ill-fated lovers meet their friends in hell Tybalt (Michael Onofri) and Mercutio (Andy Kenareki) who explain they are in a literary hell. A loud eerie silence permeates the room, until, a tall, good-looking man wearing high-end haute couture, with black Ray Bans and…begins… to sing “Maria” the song from “Westside Story” (1961, The Mirisch Corporation/Seven Arts Productions).
It’s Tony (Eusebio Hernandez) from the movie. Tybalt explains to Romeo and Juliet they only exist in literary Hades. Along the way, they meet Desdemona and Othello, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. The one rule that is common in real life and the dead is that Macbeth’s name is still bad luck to mention. I don’t know how that will hurt in hell but, hey, it’s still funny. Each character has their own quirk that separates them from the others that is hilarious.
For example, Lady Macbeth (the hysterical Rebecca Lane) spends her time screaming loudly and washing that “damn spot” from the back of her hand. Her husband is simply known as “The Scottish Guy.” Juliet walks around with the dagger she used to commit suicide remains in her abdomen. Then there is Bill. The Almighty Creator, the Bard who created all these lunatics who are running the asylum. Bill of course is William Shakespeare and Matt Ritchey (the writer and director) takes on the omniscient role. Ritchey creates hysterical, over-the-top, and exciting interpretation of Shakespeare’s work.
He brings out laughter, vulnerability, cleverness, strategic thinking and most importantly humor, even the stories that are tragedies. His creative fingerprints are all over this show. As a punishment, he has the titular characters re-enact their deaths and that is uproariously funny. This is definitely not the Shakespeare studied in high school; or college. It is a lot better.
“Romeo and Juliet in Hell” wraps up this Saturday, the 28th at 6:16 p.m. at Complex (The Flight) Theatre, located at 6472 Santa Monica Blvd., in Hollywood. For ticket information, call 323-465-0383 or reserve online at www.plays411.com