A Tender Thing

A Tender ThingPhoto: Project Arts Centre, Dublin

What if Romeo and Juliet had lived to old age?

We went to a play last night and that was the premise. But there was nothing more than the premise. They were old. She was sick and dying. And he was looking after her.

There were lines from the original play throughout, and some of the best known ones were repeated for effect. “Arise fair sun, and kill the envious moon…” Old Romeo repeats it a number of times; each time Juliet is sicker. We are being played for cheap poignancy.

For an hour and twenty minutes Romeo cares for Juliet (she wets herself at one point and he carries her in to the bathroom and changes her underwear and nightdress). In the end he obtains poison for an apothecary. Yes, she’s been pleading with him to do it. Suddenly, for ten minutes, we’re watching A Play About Euthanasia.

Ben Power wrote it. It’s impossible to say what the actors would have been like with a different script. Impossible to think about the direction, the lighting, the sound. The talents of many people had been put at the service of a slim idea. The actors just had nothing to do, other than speak. There was no drama. They did things, but there were no real scenes. There was no humour. They had no personalities.

An author happens to be reading Romeo and Juliet and he goes to see Amour. He’s struck by a simple idea: What if Romeo and Juliet had lived to old age?

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