There has recently been a surge of classic literary works adapted into a YouTube format (Green Gables Fables, The Adventures of Jamie Watson, and Frankenstein, MD to name a few) and, for the most part, they are exceptionally well done, considering many of the production teams are students with little to no external financial backing. Jules and Monty definitely stands out amongst the scores of these new web series. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the students of Tufts University have truly made this story their own.
Set on the University of Verona campus, Jules and Monty introduces us to the titular Monty, a second year fraternity brother of MTG taking a communications class that requires him to vlog. We also meet his girlfriend Rose and best friend Mark. Actor Edward Rosini is a perfect modern-day Romeo, with enough charm and dorkiness to make any girl swoon. Marcus Hunter’s portrayal of Mark is also a delight to watch; he exerts the perfect toxic friend influence on Monty.
In the second episode, we finally meet Jules Caine, although she is camera shy. Her roommate and best friend Nancy takes the reins on the whole vlogging thing (also part of the same class project Monty is doing). We learn Jules is the younger sister of Cliff, the Lord of Kappa (a rival fraternity to MTG). Although the show boasts a strong cast, Imogen Browder (Jules) and Evey Ridy (Nancy) definitely stand out the most. Jules both comes off as whimsically innocent yet strong-willed while overcoming serious struggles she faces. It is a pleasure watching her character develop throughout the series. Nancy, on the other hand, is my favourite. She is the ultimate puppet master, full of sass and confidence.
What I enjoy most about this series is the ever-changing scenery and vlogging style – much different from the majority of the show’s contemporaries. In fact, the quality of scene changes is exceptional and has a ‘cinema film’ quality to it. Because of this, plenty of episodes are not specifically focused on one singular plot element or characters; there is a balanced variety. This allows for a flawless immersion into the story from a viewer’s perspective.
Another interesting element is the web series’ incorporation of modern dialogue – cussing and all – with Shakespeare’s original writing. Because these characters speak in the exact manner that people I know in real life do, they have become the most relatable fictional vloggers I know. It is only when they are feeling particularly passionate that they break into iambic pentameter, but they do this back-and-forth almost seamlessly:
Mark [drunkenly to Monty]: You are a lover; borrow Cupid’s wings, and soar with them above a common bound.
Ben: Dude, that was beautiful.
Or one of my favourites:
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and … Oh shit. Oh shit, it’s her!
~Monty, Episode 5
The score is also incredibly cute. As anyone already familiar with the story, we already know the ending takes a tragic turn, but the folky music throughout remains so lighthearted that I was left slightly hoping that things might work out for these star-crossed lovers, at least for once.
Ultimately, the best part of this adaptation is how accessible Shakespeare’s play is made to be for all audiences. The plot’s modernizations are more relatable to younger generations, the mixture of language offers clarity for those not accustomed to iambic pentameter, and the hipster soundtrack feels like something these crazy kids would be all about in the original play.
Watch it here.