Today my daughter The Spare is trying out for her high school's autumn production of "Romeo and Juliet."
There's just one problem. The play is garbage.
Mind you, The Spare attends a "Blue Ribbon School," which I guess is supposed to mean that the school pursues intellectual rigor. Trust me, the only rigor in that school is mortis.
For the third year in a row, the school's drama teacher has enlisted the assistance of a
This time, the hapless target is The Bard.
The local mom (described above with acute precision, if you ask me) took the text of "Romeo and Juliet" and re-told the story from the point of view of the Nurse as she's sitting in a nursing home with dementia.
No, readers, I kid you not! I swear by all the Confederate Dead in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown, Maryland! I swear by every single drop of rain that has fallen on the Delaware Valley in the past two weeks! I swear by the best and brightest bored gods! I did not make this up.
Just imagine taking a wonderful play like "Romeo and Juliet," paring it down to a stinking two acts, axing all but seven characters, and wielding a mighty mean machete over the dialogue. Oh yeah, and then there's the whole point-of-view thing. The Nurse is trying to remember. Or thinks she remembers. Or ... but soft! There's Will Shakespeare moaning from his tomb!
It seems to me that a "Blue Ribbon School" with dance classes, a madrigal choir that has performed at the White House (resplendent in Renaissance costumes), and 100 kids clamoring for roles in a play, could actually put on the real "Romeo and Juliet," First Folio. We are six miles from Philadelphia. Don't tell me you couldn't find a sword-fight coach!
I have just returned from picking Spare up at the audition. She is downstairs crying. The drama coach called her up on stage first ("Let's do this fairly, in reverse alphabetical order, seniors first!) and did not call her for a second reading. She was the only senior who was not given the opportunity to do a second reading.
I'm no stage mom, trying to get my kid into Pampers commercials. To me, this thing is bigger than the Spare. It's about a despot in a small high school who takes good plays and makes them bad (or writes worse plays himself). It's about a school full of kids who want to be in productions, and the school only offers two productions a year. With a cast of seven.
The only thing more tragic than "Romeo and Juliet" is "Romeo and Juliet" re-written by some fluff-brained Snobville mom. If that school deserves a blue ribbon, I've seen some Angus beeves that should be encased in platinum. Don't tell The Spare, but I'm glad she laid an egg at the tryout. Better to not perform at all than to perform in The Great Shakespeare Chainsaw Massacre.
Ah, but art imitates life, right? Look at the darling clip below! It's Mr. G's world! Might as well have been shot at Snobville Blue Ribbon High, it's that close to the real thing. Welcome to a new sub-plot at "The Gods Are Bored!" It's the small-school drama coach who thinks he can improve upon the Bard!