Fringe Spotlight: Romeo and Juliet in Hell

What would happen if, at the end of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet woke up to discover they were stuck in their own Personal Hell, listening to Tony from West Side Story sing “Maria” for eternity? And in order to escape, they’d need to suffer through a production of their life story performed by the other inhabitants of Hell – Shakespeare’s dead characters. Matt Ritchey explores the story line in his new play Romeo and Juliet in Hell, featured at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.

“The show is full of theatre-insider jokes, Broadway show tunes, and madcap madness,” says Richey, who will direct his world premiere at the Flight Theatre at The Complex. The hour-long comedy previously received a staged reading at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but its Fringe debut will be the first full production of the play.

I asked Matt why he decided to bring it to the Fringe and he said, “I directed a play at the Complex called Gearhead and the Realbot that closed in May and I wanted to do Romeo and Juliet In Hell, a comedy I wrote in the late ‘90s, as my next show. My friend Beki Lane (who plays Lady Macbeth) suggested doing it at the Fringe, which I’d never done.” 

R&JinHell is QUITE Fringey,” he adds. “It was specifically written to be done in a black box with little to no set, highlighting the acting… or rather, the ‘bad acting,’ since the show is about Shakespeare’s dead characters forced to perform the play Romeo and Juliet and none of them are good actors. I’ve incorporated a lot of theatre-goer jokes, actor gags (Mamet allusions, superstitions dealing with Macbeth being IN the show, etc.) It’s very much a theatre piece about theatre. Fringe is the perfect place for this as the play itself is based on the idea of immediacy and lack of polish. Only a handful of gags can’t be done as written in this particular environment. For example, Romeo and Juliet fall onstage, dead, from the rafters at the top of the show and there is a lot of fog, but neither of those things will happen this time around.”

He’s also gets excited when he talks about his actors. “I have a SUPER fun and talented cast; some I just worked with on Gearhead; some who’ve been friends for years (my Lady M and Tybalt), and some brand new people. It’s going to be a very short and fast schedule, and I think we’ll all get close pretty quickly.”

The cast includes Luke Wesley Baldridge, Gail Friedland, Michael Onofri, Rebecca Lane, Nick Ley, Kevin Swanstrom, Tamara Rhoads, Wisam Mubasher, Tim Astor, Chairman Barnes, Schoen Hodges, Andy Kenareki, and Eusebio Hernandez.

“More than anything, I can’t wait to see Hamlet, Lady M, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello and Desdemona start confusing quotes and storylines from their ‘lives’ with the story of Romeo and Juliet (interspersed with some Broadway musical numbers and game shows, of course), Ritchey laughs. “It’s going to be a fun ride!”

You can check out their trailer above and view the show’s Kickstarter campaign HERE for more information.

June 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28
Complex Theatres (Flight Theatre)
6476 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90038
Tickets: ($12)
Recommended for ages 15 and up


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Los Angeles Drama Club
    May 08, 2014 @ 18:19:49

    Dear Shakespeare in LA – Thanks for your great newsletters. We want to announce that this is the closing weekend of Shakespeare Youth Festival, L.A. and both our shows have been incredibly well received. We are the Country’s Youngest Shakespeare Troupe and the players are doing very sophisticated work – it is very inspiring to see. Here is the link to reservations. If people mention Shakespeare in LA, we will give them 2$ off their already cheap 10$ seats.



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