Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Romeo and Juliet

I went to a dance show last week (by toygunstheatre.com) that was based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, though more in the sense of riffing off the story than telling it. It was done with a wonderful sense of humour that had me laughing out loud many times, and I enjoyed the show thoroughly. A few days down the road, though, I find myself thinking of a particular issue I have with the way many people approach that play.
I feel that the main tragic hero of the show is Juliet's father, Capulet. It is his hubris that drives the plot into tragedy, and he meets with one of the most terrible retributions imaginable for his pride. It seems to me a far easier thing to merely die oneself than to be responsible for the death of one's child, and he fully realizes his responsibility by the end of the play. To some extent hubris is a characteristic of the two clans as a whole, not just Capulet, and they share in the tragedy. But Romeo and Juliet are not really tragic heroes. Their mistakes are innocent ones, and the warning the play seeks to give us is not about the dangers of falling in love.

This was a big part of my issue with the Citadel production of the play a couple years ago. Capulet's part was cut to the point where he came across as a simple two dimensional villain. And to my mind that missed the whole point of the play. Perhaps this is a case where what speaks to me in the story is different from what speaks to others, but I will point out that Shakespeare explores a similar theme in other plays, most notably King Lear.   

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