Words, Words, Words: Romeo & Juliet
Alas! O me! O woe! UK Shakespeare Week is over (boo!), but World Theatre Day is just around the corner (yay!). To help you bridge the theatrical gap we’ve put together another instalment of Words, Words, Words, delving into some more of the Bard’s delightfully delicious wordery.
This week, Nel Crouch, director of our forthcoming production of Romeo & Juliet, shares her favourite R&J moments and tells us what makes them so special to her…
‘O woe! O woful, woful, woful day!
Most lamentable day, most woful day,
That ever, ever, I did yet behold!’ – Nurse
It’s been so much fun to take our most famous tragedy and give it the Handlebards treatment by turning it into a comedy. A lot of that comes from playing with these overblown displays of grief.
‘Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from their books,
But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.’ – Romeo
In a play stuffed with gorgeous poetry, a few lines jump out for the specificity of the image. He’s good, that Shakespeare.
‘Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.’ – Friar Laurence
Romeo and Juliet is a play about two young teenagers, who, in a matter of days, decide they would rather be dead than be parted. Friar Laurence is being very sensible here.
‘O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.’ – Juliet
Juliet knows exactly what she wants – I love how even when speaking heightened poetic language, she feels very much like a teenaged girl.
‘What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word,
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.’ – Tybalt
Tybalt is such a great baddie – but we also see how much the Nurse and Juliet grieve for his death. In a play about two feuding families, it shows there are different sides to every person.
‘Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.’ – Juliet
This whole speech captures the tingle and excitement of early love so gorgeously, and this is my favourite bit.
‘The letter was not nice but full of charge
Of dear import, and the neglecting it
May do much danger.’ – Friar Laurence
In rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet, we talked about just how key Friar John is to the plot – if only he’d made it Mantua we wouldn’t be in this whole mess! We’ve given him a deservedly enhanced role in our production.
‘Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,
Her wagoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not so big as a round little worm
Prick’d from the lazy finger of a maid’ – Mercutio
The famous Queen Mab speech is such a delicious treat – almost a play within the play. In the middle of a conversation between a group of lads about their girl problems you get this completely fantastical imagery that lifts you out of the play and chucks you into a world where love is delivered by a fairy riding in a nutshell. Class.
‘But old folks, many feign as they were dead;
Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.’ – Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is about a gulf between two families, but also between generations. The grown ups will never understand poor Juliet, and she’ll never understand them.
‘For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.’ – Prince
A bold claim to end a play with. THE MOST WOE EVER. The audacity!
Thanks, Nel! We can’t wait to hear those words out loud. Not long now: Romeo & Juliet is touring the UK from May to September 2018, find a show near you – here.