Amazon is releasing a new audiobook putting a gay spin on one of the world’s most famous love stories.
The retail giant’s audiobook wing, Audible Originals, has unveiled a re-telling of Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet – updating it for a modern audience.
The new adaptation features Game of Thrones actor Owen Teale – who plays treacherous Night’s Watchman Allister Thorne in the HBO series – as aspiring actor Ray.
Meanwhile, Pride’s Matthew Tennyson voices Jude – whose life is changed forever when he’s cast opposite Ray in a production of Romeo and Juliet.
A release explains: “This adaptation of Shakespeare’s epic romance puts Ray (Owen Teale) as the star actor of an ambitious amateur dramatics company putting on a professionally directed play for the first time.
“His involvement with the theatre offers an escape from the hardship of his divorce and looming bankruptcy, but little does he realise that his life will change dramatically as maverick director Miranda Merritt (Frances Jeater), is appointed to direct the company’s latest production.
“A non-conformist set to shake up the conservative theatre company’s suburban complacency, Miranda leads a performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that begins to see life imitating art for the actors involved.
“Cast as Romeo, Ray throws himself into the play, whilst also attempting to keep his business afloat by networking with local business man, Charlie Carlin (Nick Moran).
“But when Charlie’s son Jude (Matthew Tennyson), a disillusioned university drop-out, joins the theatre company and is cast as Juliet (in true Shakespearean style of an all-male cast), a passionate and dangerous behind-the-scenes love affair begins to develop between Ray and Jude.
“Forced to flee from Jude’s homophobic father Charlie, a whirlwind chase steeped in violence, fear, love, death and despair draws in the couple, their families and the cast of the play.”
Owen Teale said: “It’s an amazing piece of writing – all the characters have vastly different voices, but they are all capable of being eloquent in their own way.
“You go on a journey with Ray and Jude, as they fall in love and make a break for it while exploring their sexuality together – and the sexual content, which is so important to the story, is brilliantly woven in.”
Matthew Tennyson said: “What I like most about this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is how big and unashamedly romantic it is. You’d expect a modern interpretation to undercut the romance, but it doesn’t – it’s still big, poetic and really moving.”
Producing the high-profile audio drama – released just in time for Valentine’s Day – is a bold move from Amazon, which has previously commissioned diverse TV originals including Emmy-winning Transparent.
Check out a trailer below: