What would have happened to the star-crossed lovers if they’d had office supplies?
As we’re heading towards Valentine’s Day, and with it being #NationalStoryTellingWeek…we started thinking about romance. In particular, we wondered what might have happened to #RomeoandJuliet if only they’d had some of the everyday objects that we take for granted – things like headphones, fitness trackers and even Post-it notes.
So, I took it as a challenge to come up with a, heavily simplified and stylised, Euroffice Romeo & Juliet play. Well, the main parts of the play. This is just a blog post, after all.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin.
Juliet’s mind went back to the time she stood on the balcony at the orchard, looking down on Romeo. She was too afraid even to whisper to him, just in case one of the servants overheard. Instead, she took a piece of rose-coloured writing paper from her letter tray and with nimble but trembling fingers, fashioned it into a shape that would float down to him, like one of Da Vinci’s fabled flying machines. Throwing it off the balcony, she watched it circle and glide towards Romeo.
They would meet again and again in the orchard, sharing moments but never words. Juliet would excuse herself from her family, saying she was ‘going to sit on the stone bench’, the one just beneath the rose bushes that crested above it like a wave. Whenever Juliet sat down, she was gently showered in rose petals. To any passerby it was as if she was commanding nature itself, but instead it was Romeo, hiding behind the rose bush, dropping heart-shaped notes to her.
Before leaving, Juliet would gather these ‘petals’ up – under the pretence of tending the garden – and place them gently in a basket. Later, when alone in her bedroom, she’d carefully staple them together, lest she lose one, and lovingly tape them up in a parcel, which in turn she placed into her secret storage box hidden under the floorboards (no mice would get their little teeth into his missives).
They were married in secret. Only three people were at the intimate ceremony, Romeo, Juliet and Friar Laurence (who saw their love as a way to unite their warring families). In any other wedding there would have been fine music and minstrels to mark the occasion, but the teenagers decided to share earphones as they walked down the aisle, leaning into each other and listening to a song that made them both them smile, but which they vowed never to name to any other.
Could they live happily ever after? Knowing that Romeo and Juliet could never be together in Verona, but refused to live apart, Friar Laurence saw that death was the only way out.
Juliet held the phial in her hand. It was small and scratched, with a dark red liquid swirling around in it. Before he had left to see Romeo, Friar Laurence said it was the key to her future.
The potion would make her sleep so deeply that she would appear to have died. Her family, in their grief, would entomb her. There in the dark and cold, Juliet would lie unable to move, to see, to hear or to speak. Only spiders and silence would keep her company – that is until Romeo came to rescue her.
When he heard of this ruse, Romeo began to worry. How would he know when the potion had taken effect? What if he couldn’t find her family’s tomb in time? Friar Laurence calmed him. Yes, Juliet would be alone, but not abandoned. She would wear a band that allowed Romeo to sense her heartbeat from a distance, so he could see when the potion took effect and that his beloved was still alive.
As for the boy finding the girl in time, the Friar had already visited her family’s tomb, pretending to pay respects to her ancestors, and marked its entrance. As long as Romeo waited until nightfall, he could steal in and rescue her. The lovers would be reunited forever.
What were those shadows falling towards her?
Juliet began to panic. She couldn’t open her eyes fully, they felt so terribly heavy, but she kept trying. Before she even drank the potion she’d been thinking of dark creatures that might lurk in tombs. Had something gone wrong? Was she dead and these were spectres come to claim her?
Something landed on her forehead and then her cheek. Soft and smooth. Juliet began to blink and suddenly realised she was outside, with the sun shining. Outside. And those shadows were now floating down towards her, arcing back and forth lazily in the air. She thought of the rose bush.
No, not petals. Hearts.
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