Living Record Festival: Ain’t No Female Romeo
Written and performed by new theatre force Lita Doolan, Ain’t No Female Romeo is a piece of digital theatre about an online relationship, which draws parallels with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Shot predominantly through an iPhone camera, the narrative follows the life of a Londoner and Instagram user who falls into a cyclical relationship of liking the pictures of her “Romeo” on Instagram (Peter in this retelling). The exchange of “likes” is the catalyst for her to fall in love with Peter, as she grows to believe that the bond is genuine and worth fighting for.
The audience experiences a series of short “films” – moments of the modern-day Juliet chasing her Romeo as she tries unsuccessfully to meet Peter in real life, flying to Europe in the process. She remains utterly fixated, even as it becomes obvious that she is not going to find him, and her hope and desperation are difficult to watch. The clear themes of obsession and religion are paralleled in Shakespeare’s play, the blind obsession ultimately resulting in disaster.
The messy and difficult film style, with uncut and unedited vlog posts, can be excused in light of its relevance to the plot. Doolan examines a social media relationship, highlighting that love seems to be better when filtered. Away from the shine and gloss of Instagram, “Juliet” does not know this man at all, and yet has allowed her obsession to take her across the world. The concept feels particularly poignant against the backdrop of a pandemic, where there is a lack of social interaction and a subsequent loneliness. Online relationships have become just as important as their real-life counterparts, so there is a question of whether she is wrong to try to find someone she has a connected with. Were Romeo and Juliet wrong to die for love?
The monologue ends with a feeling of hope, despite the central character not making contact. In any case, Shakespeare was right about one thing: “Never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
Living Record Festival: Ain’t No Female Romeo is at from 17th January until 22nd February 2021. For further information or to book visit the festival’s website here.