Saturday, June 12, 2010

Letters: When Hamlet Met Juliet

Keith has emailed with news of what sounds like a rather fantastic theatrical experiment:

I've been reading your Hamlet weblog again recently - I guess your review of Tennant's Hamlet pricked my interest in the blog again and I've been enjoying all the posts since then.

It occurs to me that I should draw your attention to the existence of a play called "Romeo & Hamlet", which I saw at GayFest NYC when I was in New York recently. Now the premise (and the fact it was presented at a LGBT Festival) sounds like some kind of literary fan fiction and, in a sense, it is - but it's all really well executed. It takes the text from Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet and mashes them together, basically - to form a play where Juliet flirts with Hamlet and his is distracted by the entrance of Romeo.

My friend Rob has review it here:

The play does a really great job of putting certain lines from each play in a thoroughly new context. For instance, Hamlet's "what a piece of work is man" speech is partly in reaction to Romeo's "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks" moment.

It's difficult to know how far high concept queered texts will travel, though I think the play is smart and funny enough to have a life outside of New York - it was actually written by two Canadians, so it's already travelled a little. I thought you should know it exists, just in case you hear the name floating around - because I think it would make a great blog post, if you were ever able to see it. Trust me, it's much smarter than its high concept conceit makes it sound - I honestly thought the show would just be making fun and bare no resemblance to the Bard at all, but the show actually works not because it's a mash up but because it respects it sources so well.

Keep up the good work at The Hamlet Weblog!

Judging by that linked review it really does sound like an intelligent treatment -- the Ophelia/Tybalt mash-up especially. Thanks Keith!

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