Review of Romeo and Juliet Performance in Modern Greek
The play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare may be the play of Shakespeare’s that I have seen the most in my life. I had seen the production three or four times alone whilst at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer of 2017. Indeed I also enjoyed an American company doing Shit-faced Shakespeare were one of the actors gets excessively drunk, and it is a different actor every single night in Edinburgh that excellent summer of ‘17. The audience also has some ability to change things to have them drink another drink. I believe they only did Romeo and Juliet for that unique production. The actors would often break the fourth wall whether they were drinking or not which was sometimes interesting.
One of the most interesting aspects of such performances in Edinburgh was that one of the actors, during a particularly debauched night, mentioned a plot hole where Mercutio’s brother is mentioned. This is something the high school teachers usually don’t touch on. Whatever happened to Mercutio’s brother? From what I can tell Harold Bloom has never provided a reasonable or sufficient explanation. Indeed I do not think he was actually ever touched on the topic of Mercutio’s brother, however I am not read everything Harold Bloom has ever written on or if I listen to all his interviews despite my interest in what he has to say for the past decade.
Today I ended up watching a production by a Greek television station of an abridged version of Romeo and Juliet. It was my first time engaging in Romeo and Juliet and its entirety in a different language.
I thought it was an excellent production and it had some interesting motives. I think that the actors were some of the best Greek actors that were available and are available at the time.
Indeed the play was a bit abridged. So despite having the text of the play right in front of me, sometimes the actors would jump several lines.
Part of me was wondering while watching the play before Romeo and Juliet meet what Lord Byron would’ve thought of the difference of demonic Greek and Katharevousa. Would Lord Byron have preferred one over the other? Or would he have said that it should have gone into the Attic Greek or the Koina Greek?
Another point of interest is the concept of the speaker in the beginning and Prince. When I was in high school, and we did our miniature performance readthrough of Shakespeare, I was prince and I thought it was an exceptional role because he acts as a sort of way to Carmine all the rules. In some sense he is like Theseus in the play Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is somewhat of a minimal role but he puts a lot of the action and dénouement together.
By the time we reach the hoarding seen when Romeo goes to Juliet balcony, I think this was the best part of the play. The set production was simple and a lovely illuminated moon adorned the play. The actors for Romeo and Juliet excelled in their parts.
One of my favorite additions was that there was a near raider all throughout the play in most of the scenes, and certainly taken out from some key seeing such as the death and Mercutio in so far as I could tell him this recording but I watch today. But I think having the narrator who speaks first and speaks throughout the place actually quite interesting and provides a nice audience. It’s different from the ancient Greek chorus but I think it fulfills a similar role.
One further side note that it’s not exactly apropos of what I am discussing right now, but the nurse actress looks like Laura Fraser from a Knights Tale with Heath Ledger — Another excellent production of itself.
Friar Laurence is monologue when he was first introduced, has always been one of the most unique influences on my life. I’ve always found him to be absolutely insightful. But I see a difference between him and prince in the beginning. I also see a difference between friar Laurence and The King of Athens — Theseus.
And some since he embodies multiple archetypes at the same time. He is sort of the wise man father that Romeo goes to. However from a Jungian perspective, he also seems to be someone who is deeply intertwined with the earth, and I feel that that archetype differs from the wise father archetype.
The scene after the meeting with friar Lawrence seems to be quite delightful. I’ve always found Mercutio to be one of my favorite characters for better or for worse. He’s very playful in the beginning and likes to live as the person who he is. And some since he is like David Duchovny in the show Californication. Mercutio lives for his Aristotelian desires so to speak.
But is Mercutio a good person? Certainly we would say he’s a fascinating character. Indeed, we say that hamlet is a fascinating character but he’s not exactly a good character. Hamlet leads to the death of many people and in some sense he is quite the murderer but for some reason hamlet has been the fascination of people for generations and for decades.
In high school, sometimes there are messages that the teacher wants you to pick up, such as a simple notion as to whether love is good or high school love is good, or if other types of love or a good thing. But I do not think that Romeo and Juliet can be reduced to one precept.
But is Mercutio a good person? We can understand his frustration and his anger as he wishes to curse both the houses on his death. Indeed they are the direct and final cause of his death from an Aristotelian perspective, but the formal cause is really Romeo’s and Juliet’s love for each other. Are his final words justified? And if they are justified, are they operative?
No doubt people should be allowed to see such things when they are in such trying circumstances of pain and death however Shakespeare did not put in random expletives for no reason. Or at least this review assumes that every word in Shakespeare is not for a random purpose but is rather for a truly valuable reason. Given that premise that every word in Shakespeare has some level of value even if it is to be merely entertaining or comedic, what is the value and truth of Romeo and Juliet?
What is the rage that drives Mercutio to battle? Or another words what is the anger that brings his wrath upon stage to fight? Is it the same wrath that Achilles had in the beginning of the Iliad?
Does this apply to Mercutio as much as to Achilles?
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,
πολλὰς δ᾽ ἰφθίμους ψυχὰς Ἄϊδι προΐαψεν
ἡρώων, αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν
οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι, Διὸς δ᾽ ἐτελείετο βουλή,
ἐξ οὗ δὴ τὰ πρῶτα διαστήτην ἐρίσαντε
Ἀτρεΐδης τε ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν καὶ δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς.
Sing, wrath, Goddess, rage of Achilles,
murder and fate that cost the Achaeans,
many strong lives to Hades underworld,
of Heroes into dark Hades,
Left their bodies to be feasted by dogs and birds,
as was the will of Zeus done,
that fateful day when the son of Atreus, the king of men, and warlkie Achilles,
Is this directly parallel to Mercutio’s final words?
In the Modern Greek script:
Μ’ επλήγωσε! ς’ τ’ ανάθεμα τα δύο σπιτικά σας!
Από την μέσην μ’ έβγαλε μιαν και καλήν! — Κ’ εκείνος,
απλήγωτος το έστρηψε.
Taking out the key line from the original Shakespeare:
I am hurt. A plague o’ both your houses! I am sped. Is he gone, and hath nothing?
If the analogy of Homer’s Iliad is to be taken to the extreme, then who is Odysseus? With his archetype that most closely with friar Lawrence or with prince? Or could we further ask who does Menelaus and Agamemnon most closely relate? Would Romeo be Paris in this situation? Is Juliet Helen of Troy?
Harold Bloom one said in an interview around the turn-of-the-century on a show called Theatre Talk that there is a valid question of whether we are feeling our own emotions or an emotion of Shakespeare’s. He was quoting one of the British author that he used to correspond with in his youth. I think this is a very valid question, are we feeling our emotions or Shakespeare’s emotions? When we feel emotion is a truly our own emotion or is it something that has been brought down to us in the invention of an individual that Shakespeare had created? Are we reflecting on ourselves or we reflecting on the reflection of self that Shakespeare portrays in his place? Harold Bloom thought this was an absolutely vital question and something out is a bit disconcerting.
In the aforementioned interview with Harold Bloom, the question arises as to whether Shakespeare is also the invention of ourselves entirely and the individual? Is Shakespeare doing the thinking and feeling for us?
Bloom is not exactly happy with what is going on with Shakespeare in our colleges and universities as well as in theatrical productions in the United States. Bloom not only lambaste the “travesty” and “positive animus” as he calls it in the aforementioned interview but he also frequently discusses this on Charlie Rose and in various other interviews. However, I think I am fair and content of heart to say that I think this Greek production was absolutely excellent.
Harold Bloom is not exactly happy with how Shakespeare is attempted to be destroyed, but even despite this attempt to destroy, he says that it is impossible to destroy Shakespeare because in some sense of Shakespeare is the identity of modern self. And in that sense, the only way to destroy Shakespeare’s to destroy the concept of self which is so embedded in our culture and society. Humanity in some cents has been created by Shakespeare in the identity of humanity as well as the identity of self or deeply in bedded in Shakespeare. Indeed, and perhaps it is better to say that the identity of Shakespeare is deeply in bedded in the south and humanity.
Harold Bloom is not exactly happy with how Shakespeare is attempted to be destroyed, but even despite this attempt to destroy you, he says that it is impossible to destroy Shakespeare because in some sense of Shakespeare is the identity of modern self. And in that sense, the only way to true shooters to destroy the concept of self which is so embedded in our culture and society. Amenity in some sense has been created by Shakespeare in the identity of humanity as well as the identity of self or deeply embedded in Shakespeare. Indeed, and perhaps it is better to say that the identity of Shakespeare is deeply embedded in the identity of self and identify of humanity.
© Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV
© Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV