Shakespeare is no stranger to refreshes, reboots, contemporary settings, and gender-bending casts. But few amend the dialogue to challenge the themes embedded in his plays. Enter Alyssa May Gold. After spotlighting the relationship between girls and power in Julius Caesar, Gold tackles Shakespeare’s beloved tragic romance in her Juliet + Romeo. She revisits the star-crossed lovers through the eyes of a teenage girl as she reads Romeo + Juliet for the first time. How does the Veronian tale read in 2019?
Gold gives us a peek inside her script, disclosing secrets about how she adapted the classic, her realizations reading the original, and more:
“As I reread Romeo & Juliet last summer, I began to wonder if a teenager today would interpret a play with a body count that rivals an episode of Game of Thrones as not just a love story but the greatest love story of all time,” says Gold. “I only had to read as far as Act 1 Scene 1—where, in lines that are cut from most productions, we discover that Romeo is not in unrequited love with Rosaline, but bitter that she won’t have sex with him—to decide a teenage girl today would be more likely swipe left on Romeo than run away with him.
“Would a teenager today really settle for Juliet as her romantic spirit guide when her cure for her broken heart was death? I thought of conversations about the ways stories have shaped our behavior and what we want in stories going forward. These girls [I met since Julius Caesar] have the caution and instincts we applaud Juliet for ignoring, and the emotional resilience that Juliet has been idolized for not having. They want to follow their hearts knowing they will face heartbreak and disappointment and survive.”
Juliet + Romeo runs January 16 – February 2, 2019 Off-Broadway at Access Theater (380 Broadway, 4th Floor, between Walker and White Streets).