Saturday, January 02, 2016
Reader's Diary #1236- Brett Wright and William Shakespeare: YOLO Juliet
Nonetheless, I'm going to go on record: I loved this and thought it quite clever. Then, I also liked Baz Luhrman's adaptation and wasn't particularly upset that Oxford Dictionary named an emoji as word of the year last year, so you can take my praise with a grain of salt.
One of the best things about Wright's adaptation is the way it captured the personalities and ages of the characters but with a 21st century lens. The plot is still there, of course, and that should come as no surprise, but finally Romeo and Juliet come across as the young and naïve teenagers they are. Whether or not Shakespeare intended them to come across this way is difficult to ascertain. It wasn't as unusual for teens back then to marry. But also, there's something about the old English that lends his characters more sophistication (to our ears) than they always deserve. Here's where Wright's cleverness comes in. There's a lot of pseudo-swears in the book (OMFG, IDGAF) but many of Shakespeare's innuendoes and barbs are also kept in tact. Take this exchange:
Mercutio: Out with it then! So how was her pink flower?
Benvolio: Ugh. Mercutio.
Romeo: Let's just say it's been pollinated.
Benvolio: Ugh. ROMEO!
Reducing the original words down to their core and keeping the characters' identities in check, the interjections of modern text speak didn't clash as much as you might expect.
Wright does add humour and satire, which turns the play into a comedy rather than a tragedy, but let's face it, the tragedy angle's been told to death. I especially liked how Lady Capulet, perhaps showing her age, insisted on signing off on all of her texts, "Love, mom," "Love, LC" and so forth. There's also a great scene when Romeo's autocorrect fails him, not once but twice in a row:
Romeo: What the duck, Juliet?
Romeo: The duck.
Romeo: Ugh! Autocorrect.
Then there's another exchange between Friar Laurence and Father John, when Friar Laurence can't understand why Father John is yelling. It turns out that Father John just doesn't know how to turn off his caps lock.
It doesn't always work. Sometimes having the characters text one another when clearly they're meant to be in the same room takes a bit of belief suspension, but otherwise it's fun and a great adaptation for our times.