Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Romeo & Juliet
ROMEO & JULIET
A.K.A STUPID KIDS
CAST OF CHARACTERS
ROMEO: "The son and heir of Montague and Lady Montague" -- About 16 years old, he's young, handsome, intelligent, passionate, and sensitive. He's a lover, not a fighter. A little impulsive, and immature, but very likeable character. Wants nothing to do with the family feud going on between his familia and the Capulets.
JULIET: "The daughter of Capulet, and Lady Capulet." -- About 13 years old. She starts off as a naive kid wanting to do nothing with marriage, which all changes quickly when she meets Romeo. Being the girl, she doesn't have the freedom to do whatever she wants like Romeo such as climbing walls, and playing with swords.
FRIAR LAWRENCE: "A Franciscan friar", -- the kids' priest, and guidance counselor. He's the one who secretly marries the two. Apparently he's also an expert on "mystical potions and herbs". Kinda like a Wiccan...or pot grower.
MERCUTIO: "A kinsman to the Prince, and Romeo's close friend". -- Very witty, funny, intelligent, imaginative, and sarcastic. The most fun character in the play, and the one who makes the most sense. He pokes fun at Romeo's romantic ideas about love, and tries to teach him about the real world. He's my FAVORITE character in the play.
TYBALT: "A Capulet, Juliet's cousin on her Mother's side." -- All about fashion and reputation. Aggressive, violent, and quick to draw the sword (which he's an expert on) at the drop of a hat. In other words, he's shallow, and he's an asshole. He HATES the Montagues, probably more than any other character in the play.
THE NURSE: "Juliet's nurse" -- a.k.a REAL Mom, being that she's the one who raised her, and even BREAST FED her when she was a baby.
Now what mother would hire her baby-sitter to breast feed her own child? Oy vey.
She is a rough around the edges, kind of vulgar type of gal. She is Juliet's loyal confidante until towards the end when her and Juliet have an argument about Juliet risking everything to be with Romeo.
CAPULET: "The patriarch of the Capulet family, father of Juliet, husband of Lady Capulet, and longtime enemy of Montague" -- The 'Gambino' of the Capulets. Loves his daughter, tries to do what's for her 'own good', and thinks he knows her. Has a tendency to have a fit when she doesn't do what he says. Sterotypical Dad.
LADY CAPULET: "Juliet's mother, Capulet's wife" -- Too busy throwing fancy parties and worrying about what to wear, that she doesn't really know her daughter, is not affectionate, didn't really raise her, and completely relies on the nurse ('The Nanny') to take care of her. The stereotypical richie rich, absentee Mom.
MONTAGUE: "Romeo's father, the patriarch of the Montague clan and bitter enemy of Capulet" -- The 'Gotti' of the Montagues. In the beginning of the play, Dad is just worried about his son's depression, knowing pretty much it's over a girl.
LADY MONTAGUE: "Romeo's mother, Montague's wife". -- Apparently she dies of "grief" after Romeo is exiled from Verona. How do people die of 'grief'? I think she already had some medical issues going on...
PARIS: "A kinsman of the Prince, and the suitor of Juliet most preferred by Capulet" -- The most eligible bachelor in Verona. Handsome, rich, and successful, so of course her family tries to make her marry him against her own will. Once the family promises Juliet to him, he starts acting like they're already married. Doesn't take the hints that Juliet really doesn't want him. Completely oblivious to the way she reacts, or doesn't react towards him. The total 'how can she NOT love me, I'm too good for her', type of denial.
BENVOLIO: "Montague's nephew, Romeo's cousin, and thoughtful friend" -- He's the nice guy, always trying to break up fights, although Mercutio says he has a bad temper in private. His name comes from benevolent.
PRINCE ESCALUS: "The Prince of Verona. A kinsman of Mercutio and Paris" -- Basically, the police chief in the town, who's failed attempts try to keep peace in Verona.
FRIAR JOHN: "A Franciscan friar charged by Friar Lawrence with taking the news of Juliet's false death to Romeo in Mantua" (the town he goes to after being banished) -- Things go REALLY super bad when he's held up in a 'quarantined house' and the message never gets to Romeo.
BALTHASAR: "Romeo's dedicated servant" -- a.k.a personal assistant, who brings Romeo's news of Juliet's 'death', not knowing it's a fake death she and Friar Lawrence created to get everybody off her ass about marrying Paris, so she can run away and live happily ever after with Romeo.
SAMPSON AND GREGORY: "Two servants of the house of Capulet" -- A couple of bumbling, loyal followers of the Capulets who like to provoke and instigate the Montagues into fights.
ABRAHAM: "Montague's servant" -- The Gambino's personal assistant who fights with Sampson and Gregory in the first scene of the play.
THE APOTHECARY: "An apothecary in Mantua" -- a.k.a the local drug dealer who sells poison to Romeo.
PETER: "A Capulet servant who invites guests to Capulet's feast" -- The one who gets everybody to the big party, and who's basically a servant to the Nurse.
ROSALINE: "The woman with whom Romeo is infatuated at the beginning of the play" -- You NEVER see this character in the whole play, apparently she's supposed to be hot, but basically wants to be left alone to become a nun. Romeo forgets about her right away after seeing Juliet. Goes to show how fleeting young love is.
THE CHORUS: "The Chorus is a single character who functions as the narrator" -- The story teller in the play, also gives commentary here and there.
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young "star-cross'd lovers" whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet and Macbeth, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers.
Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity. Its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562, and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1582. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both but, to expand the plot, developed supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris. Believed written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597. This text was of poor quality, and later editions corrected it, bringing it more in line with Shakespeare's original.
Shakespeare's use of dramatic structure, especially effects such as switching between comedy and tragedy to heighten tension, his expansion of minor characters, and his use of sub-plots to embellish the story, has been praised as an early sign of his dramatic skill. The play ascribes different poetic forms to different characters, sometimes changing the form as the character develops. Romeo, for example, grows more adept at the sonnet over the course of the play.
Romeo and Juliet has been adapted numerous times for stage, film, musical and opera. During the Restoration, it was revived and heavily revised by William Davenant. David Garrick's 18th-century version also modified several scenes, removing material then considered indecent, and Georg Benda's operatic adaptation omitted much of the action and added a happy ending. Performances in the 19th century, including Charlotte Cushman's, restored the original text, and focused on greater realism. John Gielgud's 1935 version kept very close to Shakespeare's text, and used Elizabethan costumes and staging to enhance the drama. In the 20th century the play has been adapted in versions as diverse as MGM's comparatively faithful 1936 film, the 1950s stage musical West Side Story, and 1996's MTV-inspired Romeo + Juliet.
Oh where should I start? Let me count the issues. It begins with the "Chorus" (the narrator basically telling us the whole story in a nutshell. A spoiler, letting us know the two kids in the play are ultimately gonna die.
A couple of things I'd like to add before I break it down. I love the poetry in the story telling. All the ryhming is really fun. It's a little too dramatic at some points, the "Oh God, that's so dramatic..." (insert rolling the eyes). Moving along...
Gregory and Sampson, two hangers-on of the Capulet family with something to prove start a fight with some Montagues in the streets of Verona. They "bite their thumbs" at their foes, the equivalent of sticking your middle finger up at somebody. The clash that follows shows the intense feud between both families, which by the way at NO point of the play does Will ever explain why these two families hate each other so much. Personally, I think it's like a Mafia thing.
The one thing I did NOT like about this is the way both fellows joke among themselves about raping Montague women in an attempt to show their superiority over their enemy. Apparently, not much has changed in that way of thinking when it comes to war.
Then we see Paris trying to win the heart of young Juliet...through her parents. How romantical. He convinces Mama and Papa Capulet that she is not too young to wed, and of course they agree. Juliet whines to her Nurse that she's not trying to hear it. Lovely how these arranged marriages work. Who says suicide is not an option?
Meanwhile, Romeo is moping around like a typical teenager who thinks he's in love pining for some girl named Rosaline, (who we NEVER actually see in the play). It could be his imaginary friend or blow up doll for all we know. His closest friends Benvolio, and Mercutio attempt to cheer him up, by doing what guys do. Take him out for a night on the town to meet other females. What they don't realize what they actually do is seal his fate by setting him up to meet Juliet, which changes everything. While crashing a big, Capulet party that night Romeo and Juliet fall in love at first sight, then they realize they are supposed to be enemies and there goes the neighborhood.
Ahh, the famous balcony scene. It's been imitated, duplicated, re-made, and re-done a thousand ways. The epitome of romance. Whether it's a fancy balcony, a fire escape, or the back door. The symbol of forbidden love. It always looks much nicer in the movies. This is when the two young lovers confirm their undying love. Hey, they've already known each for at least a few hours so this is for real. C'mon, 16 and 13 years old? They should be listening to Justin Bieber, and playing with Playstation 4.
The next day Romeo goes to his trusty Friar Lawrence to tell him he's already forgotten all about Rosaline and is now in love with Juliet, and he REALLY means it this time! He makes the Friar marry them, (in secret, with the help of Juliet's nurse). This little secret rendezvous ends up biting them all in the ass later on.
While all this is happening, Romeo's friends are looking for him, having no idea what's going on. Mercutio being my favorite, seems to really understand human nature and throughout the play tries to talk some sense into Romeo, and explain how the real world works because this lad is truly in his own la la land.
Later on hot-headed Tybalt comes around, itching to get a piece of Romeo since he and his compadres crashed his family's party and runs into Mercutio and Benvolio and they get into a bit of a scuffle. Enter Romeo ala a little too late because it's already started when he tries to break it up and lets the cat out of the bag about him and Juliet. He makes an effort to make nice with the Capulet which in turn disgusts Mercutio and he and Tybalt get into it again. Romeo's attempt to break them up again gets Mercutio shanked. I must say for me this is that saddest part of the play, even more so than the ending itself. I figure, Mercutio got wacked trying to defend that little shmuck, and he knows it, so I don't blame him for saying my favorite line in the play, "A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES!" I would of thought the same thing except I woulda been like, "FUCK! This is what I get for standing up for you, you little asshole! The hell with both of you!"
Romeo then goes after Tybalt, and avenges his friend's death, then realizes what he's done when he thinks of Juliet and runs off. The authorities arrive on the scene and proclaim that Romeo is banished. He actually got off easy, because according to Verona law, he should have gotten the death penalty. A note here about revenge and so on. There seems to be a long running joke among the guys about being a sissy, and not wanting to fight and so on, so basically they are saying, violence/fighting/aggression etc, = men. Non-violence/peace/love, etc, = sissy/gay. Way to go for good role models for young males. Too much of this display of testosterone makes one suspicious of the possible homo-erotic tendencies of all the above mentioned men. And what's up with all these boys carrying and waving all these weapons around. Aren't they a little too young to be armed and dangerous? Where the hell are the cops when you need them?
While all this ruckus is going on Capulet Mom and Dad are planning Juliet's wedding to Paris for her, (not knowing she's already married). Good timing people, let's do that after a relative's funeral. Juliet learns of Tybalt's murder but is more distressed about Romeo's banishment than she is of her cousin's death, and apparently it doesn't make her love Romeo any less. While Friar Lawrence is hiding out Romeo, Juliet gets into a fight with her Dad about marrying Paris. Capulet is forcing Juliet to marry Paris like, the that same week, if she doesn't, he basically threatens to disown her. I hate the Dad at this point of the play. He really doesn't know what he's doing. He's pretty much sending her to her death bed at this point. Well, not that he would know that. In the middle of the night, Romeo sneaks into Juliet's room and they do it, vow their undying love to each other again, and say they'll figure something out, and keep in touch, via their accomplices. Once again, the issue of virginity pops up again. It's always about the freakin' virginity. You HAVE to be white as snow when you get married, or else you are pretty much useless whore.
Next we see a desperate Juliet at the Friar's place telling him that if he doesn't figure out something for her to do to get out of this second marriage, she's going to kill herself. Also desperate for a solution, the Friar Lawrence gives Juliet a potion that's the equivalent of a serious rufie to make it look like she died, then Romeo can hook up with her later and they can live out their life in Mantua, Romeo's new town. That's pretty bad, when you have to fake your own suicide so everyone can get off your ass. Apparently, it works, that night she takes it, and the next morning they all find her "dead". Marriage cancelled due to technical difficulties. Please stand by.
Now part of the plan was also for Friar's buddy and fellow Friar, Friar John to let Romeo know about it. Evidently, he gets caught up in some town and never makes it to Romeo, meaning the message never got to him. This is bad. Romeo finds out (mistakingly) through his assistant Balthasar that Juliet has died. Of course, this devastates him, and he goes running to the closest crack-head and dope dealer for a vial of poison to kill himself, next to Juliet.
An uber frazzled Romeo goes running to see Juliet, and bumps into Paris who is visiting her grave, Paris gets in Romeo's way, they get into a conflict, and Romeo kills Paris. Paris, that poor shmuck. He had NO clue what was going on.
Romeo gives Juliet a final kiss, and drinks the poison, and drops dead. Friar Lawrence, and Balthasar finally get to the scene, when Juliet wakes up and finds her Romeo dead, and refuses to leave the tomb. They all run away leaving Juliet alone when they hear the popo coming near, she then takes her own life with a dagger, (and dies for real this time).
Everyone shows up at the locale, Prince Escalus, Capulet, Montague, ERR' BODY. They discover the grisly scene, round up the ones who ran away who fess up to everything they know, and realize it took a couple of teen suicides, and then some, to settle their differences. Hard lesson learned. Like the Prince says, they ALL lost. Nobody wins.
It makes me angry reading that last part. Unfortunetly, sometimes it takes something extreme like that for some people to change their ways. I think to myself. "This all could have been so avoided. People are stupid."
Next up, "A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM".