Romeo and Juliet Post Scriptum is a contemporary play, which mixes humour and drama to explore what would have happened if Juliet’s letter had reached Romeo in time. The star-crossed lovers haven’t died, but they’re not out of the woods yet. They’re still in Verona, trapped in Friar Lawrence’s church, and the entire Capulet clan is about to descend for Juliet’s funeral.
The scenario might be Shakespeare’s, but ultimately this play is about two scared teenagers, who desperately want to escape their families and their situation. The couple plan to flee to a remote island where they can be together. But first they have to get to the boat – and this where the plan begins to break down, as they start to argue about how to do this and, also, whether to do this.
The play begins with Juliet walking onto a bare set, with a piece of rope tied around one wrist and the end trailing behind the curtains. A scream, and Romeo walks on, with blood on his shirt… and the other end of the rope tied around his wrist. The rope is the only prop used throughout the play; it ties the couple to one another, both physically and symbolically. It is pulled and played with by the actors, emphasising individual moments throughout.
Romeo, it soon emerges, has murdered his love rival Paris, who was sitting in the church. A giggling Juliet leaps into his arms, stating that Paris was a ‘pervert’; why else would he want to marry a fourteen-year-old? It’s not what the audience expect, and on the day I attended, it drew shocked laughter. But then, these are teenagers from a different age, suffering from extreme emotional distress. Who can say what is appropriate?
The couple move about the stage a great deal as they struggle against the world and each other. Unfortunately, they spend a large amount of time on the ground, and the performance space is not raised. So if you’re not sitting on the front row, you may miss out on some of the action; it’s a shame that the piece isn’t quite adapted to the space it’s being presented in.
But overall the performances are superb, and that’s just as well, for this is a minimalist piece that relies entirely on the actors. It both honours and builds on its source – finally offering a realistic answer to one of literature’s greatest what-ifs.