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Romeo is Not the Only Fruit - Malthouse Theatre

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by Shoshanna Beale (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and editor living in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. Check out my website and blog at
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Electro-pop musical theatre at the Melbourne Comedy Festival

"Why, why, why, - why do the lesbians always die?" is the question this electro-pop musical theatre, written, directed and acted by queer women of colour, poses to the audience, as they list the names of LGBTI female charters killed off in several popular television shows: "Lexa, Tricia, Tara, Delphine…"

Have I got your attention yet? Good, because Romeo is Not the Only Fruit certainly will.

Based on the Bury your Gays movement that has come out of LGBTI characters being killed off so frequently on television, in part because these characters are largely under-represented in major roles and are often seen as expendable to the plot (you can read more on that here), Jean Tong's Romeo is Not the Only Fruit starts with the narrators, also known as the "Chorus of Incompetent Dead Lesbians" setting the scene by introducing us to the "star-crossed lesbians," Juliet and Darcy, and the inevitable doom that awaits the two lovers when they fall in love, all told through a melange of irreverent songs, lively dialogue and a hint of slapstick.

Contrary to the title, the plot only loosely borrows from the Bard's play. Our heroines, no Romeo in sight, are pronounced "star-crossed lesbians" but the plot itself follows much more closely to a romantic comedy, albeit with a fateful Shakespearean twist. But it is here that Romeo is Not the Only Fruit finds its charm, for even as it picks-apart the tropes and stereotypes of the rom-com genre, the show still plays out the formula with a joie de vivre that has the audience hoping for the two lovers to somehow beat their odds and find their happily-ever-after.

Although a little unpolished, Romeo is Not the Only Fruit is a delightful romp through the politics of race, gender and sexuality, family, and of course, love. I would recommend it particularly for those aged 16-30, and young queer women may find the characters quite relatable, and for everyone who likes a good rom-com that doesn't take itself too seriously. It is youthful, energetic and fun, and bound to have you laughing.

The Malthouse is located in the Arts Precinct, 5ims on the number 1 tram from Federation Square or about a 20 minute walk. There are two bars, one inside, one outside, and a lively atmosphere, if the weather is nice, I recommend stopping for a drink in the courtyard before the show, which has been decked out in purple fairy lights and is a great space for a spot of people watching. You can take your drink to your seats so long as it's in plastic instead of glass.

As with all theatre please make sure you arrive early, late arrivals may not be admitted.

Written and directed by Jean Tong and starring Margot Tanjutco as Juliet, Louisa Wall as Darcy and Sasha Chong, Nisha Joseph and Pallavi Waghmode as the dead lesbians and other side characters.

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*Shoshanna Beale was invited as a guest
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Why? For laughs and for feels
When: 9.45 pm
Phone: 03 9685 5111
Where: Malthouse Theatre
Cost: $30 for adults, $22 for concession
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