Romeo and Juliet

My mother and I were talking about Shakespeare this morning. Having seen Megan Dansie’s brilliant production of Richard III, she is going to see her Romeo and Juliet this week. Megan said to her about this ‘After West Side Story and Baz Luhrmann, I can only think of one way left to do the play’ and when my mother enquired as to what that might be she said ‘As Shakespeare would have done it.’ Romeo and Juliet is the play. THE play by Shakespeare. If it is necessary to demonstrate this, how better than my mother recalling when a movie version of Hamlet was put on at her local cinema years ago with the billboard outside emblazoned:

By the author of

Romeo and Juliet

My mother also recalled sending us down to the local cinema to see Zeffrelli’s Romeo and Juliet when we were little, I think I was eight and the oldest of four. My sister, all of 5 years old came in crying and my mother supposed my brothers were at fault, but when asked she said ‘I’m crying for Juliet’ and then my brothers came in sobbing, and finally me, with bitter tears saying ‘It’s not fair, it’s just not fair’.

I wrote the following a while ago now.

You love things for different reasons. This, because it is true.

I haven’t seen the Leonardo DiCaprio version of this, but Noela told me after she saw it that the audience wanted the kids to pay more attention to their mobiles. I think her point was that they didn’t have mobiles but should have because they are kids and would. Presumably this means the director decided that mobiles would spoil things for the very reason that Noela was picking on.

That if they had mobiles the audience would have been yelling instructions throughout. Audience groans ‘Get out of the crypt, Juliet, you won’t get reception in there’. Audience closes eyes ‘Oh my God, Romeo, PLEASE charge your phone. Don’t you get what’s going to happen here?’ Audience freaks out completely ‘Juliet, why oh why oh why are you with ‘three’. The moment you get out of the CBD the reception is fucking crap’.

But I don’t think that’s what would have happened. I don’t see that tragedy on the turn of a mobile phone’s whim is any the less than fortune as it took place in the play. In real life it happens. Some tiny hightech communication accident changes everything for ever. A mobile phone can break your heart just by sitting there doing nothing.

And gee whiz. We’re talking about Shakespeare here. He’s indestructible. Bring on the technology. Let Romeo text – Im there 4 u – and accidentally send it to Tybalt. See if Shakespeare cares.

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