Clare McMahon (Unhome) and Siobhan Kelly play Jules and Fi (better known to students of English literature as Juliet and Ophelia). Their situation is gradually revealed and it becomes apparent that they’re trapped together in limbo. Hanging around the waiting room of the dead with nothing to do, they talk about their lives and loves.
It’s clear that they’ve been together for some time and are familiar with each other’s stories. They rehearse key moments from their stories, lapsing back from everyday Belfast dialect to Shakespearean vernacular. Subtle accessories – scarves and shirts – transform their grey and denim afterlife uniform into the characters.
The hour long performance (written by Clare McMahon and directed by Benjamin Gould) rips along with only an odd moment of silence punctuating the boisterous and energetic delivery of McMahon and Kelly, with their clear diction, raised eyebrows and sideways looks.
Large portions of speeches and conversations are interwoven into the two women’s voyage of discovery. The not quite 14 years old Juliet was only married a matter of days before her unfortunate end. But she’s wise beyond her years, the queen of understatement, and ventures to chasten and challenge Ophelia and the other characters they survey. So many women die at the
Shakespeare’s Women is a thoroughly polished and expressive performance, thoughtful and great fun. And part of a rich vein of new theatre being performed a part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival - like a Pick'n'Mix revival - in the all-black The Barracks (a newish venue up the alley way beside The Black Box).