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What would Shakespeare have made of a health warning for ‘Romeo and Juliet’? For once, he’d be lost for words

Charlie Stone
Charlie Stone

Charlie Stone is an author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.

Charlie Stone is an author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.

What would Shakespeare have made of a health warning for ‘Romeo and Juliet’? For once, he’d be lost for words
Tragedies are meant to be tragic, right? No one told London’s Globe Theatre, whose ‘Romeo and Juliet’ adaptation comes with a warning of suicide and drug use and advice on counselling. The Bard must be spinning in his grave.

Listen, you woke idiots, with your pointless qualifications in the art of navel-gazing and insatiable urge to reassemble history through a 2020s lens, please just stop nannifying the world. 

Stop.

Keep out of my world. Stop telling me what to think, stop telling me what to do, stop trying to keep us all ‘safe.’ 

Stop trying to make being offended worse than any kind of actual physical assault or – for that matter – make offending someone a crime punishable with permanent exile. 

Grow some balls, basically. Know what I’m saying? I’m a grown-up. So, just ffff…. STOP! The world simply doesn’t need your help. Go away, and take your stupid health warnings and dumb signs with you.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, which stands near to the site of the original Globe where Shakespeare first staged many of his plays, now joins the long list of places that need fumigation to be freed from the creeping weeds of the new woke idiocy. 

An adaptation of the bard’s classic love story ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the theatre comes with a health warning about potentially disturbing scenes and the audience are directed towards a mental health helpline if they have a bit of a wobble after the performance. 

Err, hang on a sec? Isn’t ‘Romeo and Juliet’ a tragedy? It wouldn’t be very tragic if there were no disturbing scenes, would it? It would just be, well, boring. 

Also on rt.com ‘Wait til they see Hamlet!’: Brits mad after Globe Theatre warns of ‘upsetting’ themes in Romeo & Juliet & offers helpline number

In case you grew up in a cave, let me explain what it’s about (spoiler alert). Romeo and Juliet are star-crossed lovers from warring families in Verona, Italy. They fall in love. There are some fight scenes. Romeo has to flee, Juliet fakes her death to be with him. Romeo thinks she’s really dead, kills himself. She does the same when she wakes up and finds him dead. The End.

“This production contains depictions of suicide, moments of violence and references to drug use. It contains gunshot sound effects and the use of stage blood,” the warning reads. Audience members are told to contact the theatre’s box office team if they have any further concerns.

“If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this production of Romeo and Juliet please find details below of organisations offering advice and support.”

Oh Lord, come on. 

The theatre explained to The Sun newspaper what the new interpretation of the classic is all about. “Ola Ince’s critically acclaimed production brings the play into today’s world, with an ‘anti- romantic’ Romeo and Juliet. Our production does not shy away from how relevant this story is for our current societal struggles. As we’ve chosen to focus on mental health, and utilise direct techniques that may be affecting to some audience members, we wanted to provide information to those who may need it.”

Why, why, why? What for? You know what, though? Truly, it doesn’t matter. It sounds dreadful, and most people should simply avoid this interpretation like the plague.

Back when William Shakespeare was scratching away with his quill – over 400 years ago, by the way – people were still executed in public in front of raucous, drunken, cheering crowds. And never mind Covid-19, theatres in Elizabethan London were often shuttered due to outbreaks of bubonic plague, which claimed around a third of the city’s population.

I very much doubt ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has been improved in any way by this new interpretation and – I dunno about you – I’m sure she’s a genius, but I’ve never heard of ‘Ola Ince’. Let’s see how long her work lasts; it’s kind of conceited to rework Shakespeare, anyway, in my view. Write your own play, instead, Ola, and see how many people turn up to see it over the next four centuries.

Shakespeare’s plays are full of ‘drama,’ and that can make those of a nervous disposition a tad jumpy. ‘Hamlet,’ ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Othello’ – they’re all pretty dark and blood-splattered. So, why not just stay home and watch people getting shot in the head on the telly instead, or maybe enjoy all that mindless violence in a ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon? Whatever.

The world – indeed life – was very, very dangerous back then and it’s still a wee bit dangerous now. So what? It has to be lived. Maybe it’s time for us all to take a stand, and resist this endless onslaught of woke interference and self-righteous bulls**t. 

Also on rt.com A gadget tax to fund the arts? Just how self-obsessed and tone deaf have these celebrity actors and artists become?

But what can we do? It seems to be as irresistible as climate change. The woke brigade are harder to dodge than the taxman. Their meddling and faffing and fannying is as all-pervasive as advertising.

Well, I dunno... maybe if you see a signpost on your local pool or snooker hall warning about the inherent danger in wooden sticks and fast moving balls, you might want to deface it with a mighty phallus? Or if there’s a sign on the grass warning about the deadly danger of slipping when wet or advising about insects underfoot, rip it out of the earth and dump it on the doorstep of your nearest vegan cafe...

Take a stand. We don’t need your help, wokeys. We don’t need your guidance, we don’t need you to hold our hands through life. Go away.

And as for this performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet’? It’s very simple: just don’t go. Leave the theatre empty, and let them tear their signs down themselves. Sounds like it’ll be crap anyway...

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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