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I Wanna F*ck Like Romeo and Juliet

Theatre Review by Howard Miller - October 26, 2022

Ashton Muñiz, Elizabeth Ramos, and Juan Arturo
Photo by Hunter Canning
The New Light Theater Project's production of Andrew Rincón's I Wanna F*ck Like Romeo and Juliet, opening tonight at 59E59 Theaters, is a sweet, funny, heartwarming, bilingual, gay, romantic, fantasy comedy. But that title! Potentially off-putting and definitely misleading, since, when those words are spoken as a line of dialogue, they are actually part of a touching speech that encompasses so much of the play's beautiful and tender theme: altogether smart but not remotely smart-ass.

Our erstwhile lovers are Alejandro (Juan Arturo) and Benny (Ashton Muñiz). When we first meet them, they are breaking up after six years together. The reason? Well, why does anyone break up? It's both shallow and deep, as we learn over the course of the two hours we spend with them and the other characters.

And what characters they are. First and foremost is Cupid (yes, that Cupid, the God of Love), here portrayed by Jacqueline Guillén as an angry, worn-out, but still fierce shotgun-toting Latinx warrior. Cupid is ready to call it quits, turn in her wings, and let the mortals work things out for themselves, especially those living in Hackensack, New Jersey, where the earthbound portions of the play take place. Cupid's dear friend Valentine (Greg Cuellar), the Patron Saint of Love and an incurable romantic, tries to stop her from walking away from the job, and he does manage to stall by talking her into making one last wager for old time's sake. Cupid will take on Alejandro, and Valentine will take on Benny. It will be both a quest and a competition to see who can be the one to bring them back together. Only then will Valentine relent and Cupid will be free to retire.

Much of the play revolves around these four, but let's not forget about Betti the dental hygienist (Elizabeth Ramos, giving a terrific wackadoodle performance), the ultimate outsider who finally finds herself when she gets caught up in the adventure of a lifetime. Oh, and there is a disembodied voice known as The Poet, perhaps a stand-in for the Almighty, or maybe simply the narrator.

Tales that bring together mortals and gods have been captured in myths and plays and movies since forever. So it's not necessarily a set of brand new plot ideas that playwright Andrew Rincón brings to the table. What we get with I Wanna F*ck Like Romeo and Juliet is genuine charm, wit, enjoyable characters, and often clever dialog that crosses easily between English and Spanish. I genuinely liked spending a couple of hours with Alejandro, Benny, Cupid, Valentine, and Betti, and I left the theater with a smile on my face and in my heart. All of the performances are excellent, including a couple of fun guest appearances by the stagehand. Director Jesse Jou has done a fine job both with the pacing and in making great use of the small performance space. Altogether, a real treat for romcom fans (and who isn't one?).

I Wanna F*ck Like Romeo and Juliet
Through November 5, 2022
New Light Theater Project
59E59 Theaters, Theater C
59 East 59th Street, New York, NY
Tickets online and current performance schedule: