It's a tale as old as time. We all know William Shakespeare's story of two star-crossed adolescents and their forbidden love than led to their ultimate demise. It's seen numerous adaptations and deconstructions with the likes of Orlando Bloom, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Hailee Steinfeld stepping into its iconic roles.
But its latest adaptation strips the story of its hetero-normative structure. R + J is a genderqueer adaptation of the classic play, premiering off-Broadway this fall. Adapted and directed by Molly Houlahan, it features a diverse cast of six female and gender-nonconforming actors, as well as a fully female and gender-nonconforming crew.
Set in a not-too-distant future, R + J takes place 50 years after society has exterminated cisgender men. As the government still relies on martial law to keep the factions in check, two young heirs unexpectedly fall in love. One is from the Montagues, the militaristic warmongers responsible for the purge of society's men. The other is the Capulets, controllers of information and the media, fighting to regain independence from a sovereign state.
Houlahan uses the classic tale to explore mainstream feminism, patriarchal structures, and a society struggling to rebuild in their wake.