6 times a classic play was given a modern twist


There are many instances in which a director or producer has taken a classic play and given it a twist, refreshing it for the stage and a modern audience. The twist could change the period in which the play is set, modernise the language or add music and dance to the performance; some will remain true to the original while others will use it simply as a guide to experiment with.

Some will argue that a classic should remain just that, and we would encourage everyone to go see the classics as they were written, at least once in their life! However, the success of some adaptions, interpretations and modernisations cannot be argued, helping to bring a new audience to classic stories and hopefully introducing them to the original works along the way!

We’ve pulled together six plays which have been reworked with a twist…

The original: Romeo and Juliet

The adaption: West Side Story

The twist: West Side Story takes our star-crossed lovers out of Verona, Italy and drops them in New York, USA. Instead of feuding families we have rival gangs and there’s singing and dancing thrown in for good measure. This musical takes Shakespeare’s original work as the basis for a fresh interpretation.


The original: JM Barrie’s Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up

The adaption: Peter Pan in Pantomime

The twist: This much loved story has been subject to many adaptions in theatre, film, ballet and more. As the play was intended for children, it’s a small but successful twist towards panto, with more gags and pop culture thrown into the mix. Watch out for Hook, he’s behind you!


The original: Pygmalion

The adaption: My Fair Lady

The twist: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw takes its influence from Greek mythology and follows Eliza Doolittle’s attempts to pass for a duchess. The play has seen many adaptions none more popular than the musical My Fair Lady which, of course, adds music and dance, and in place of a duchess we have a lady.


The original: Twelfth Night, or What You Will

The adaption: Shakespeare Globe’s Twelfth Night, All Shook up

The twist: The Shakespeare comedy was a festive favourite back in the early 17th century and has had many an adaption. Playwrights have been updating the text and performance since the mid-17th century through to today! Shakespeare’s Globe added the twist of an all-male cast, while the music of Elvis was added for the musical All Shook Up.


The original: La Vie de Bohème

The adaption: La Bohème; Rent

The twist: The original play by Murger and Barrière was first performed in 1849 and based on Murger’s own stories of life in bohemian Paris. The play was the source material of what would become one of the most well renowned operas of all time, La Bohème. The opera would go on to be interpreted into the musical Rent. Giving Murger’s original work yet another twist.


The original: Shakespeare’s Macbeth

The adaption: TWIST Theatre Company’s Macbeth

The twist: Another Shakespeare play getting a TWIST. This time we are looking to a performance from Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016. Macbeth by TWIST take the original story and set it in within the contemporary music business. Cawdor and King are the names of record companies, fronted by Macbeth and Duncan and the witches are depicted as a trio of backing vocalists.