Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Last night the Missus and I went with a group of friends to see a performance of Romeo and Juliet.

I had been completely unaware that Atlanta is home to an excellent Shakespearean troupe - The Atlanta Shakespeare Company - that stages its productions at The New American Shakespeare Tavern in midtown. You show up a couple of hours before the show, eat some well-prepared British pub food, and digest your dinner whilst enjoying the Bard’s great works.

The show we saw was the final performance of Romeo and Juliet for the season, and the actors gave it their all. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening, despite knowing how the play ends. (If you’re unfamiliar with the story, I will just say that Shakespeare would have been a miserable failure at running a massage parlor: not a lot of happy endings.)

Yes, it is a tale with a tragic outcome, the kind of result one would expect from allowing a bunch of hormone-raddled teenagers to run around with sharp objects. But Shakespeare knew how to keep an audience’s interest despite the occasionally weighty subject matter; he was a master at peppering his plays with comic relief. Hundreds of years later, George Lucas would try to take a page from old Will’s playbook by inserting Jar Jar Binks into Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, with completely unsatisfying results. Shakespeare knew better. Not only are his comic characters not annoying, they’re often downright bawdy.

As Don Marquis observed circa 1916, writing as archy the cockroach,
catches the crowd
and i
are often
low browed

the fish wife
and the laugh
of the horse
and i
are frequently

in bill s behalf
are adduced
to refine
big bill s
coarse laugh

but bill
he would chuckle
to hear such guff
he pulled
rough stuff
and he liked
rough stuff

hoping you
are the same

Rough stuff, indeed. And over four centuries down the road, it’s still unmatched.

Adieu to Romeo - and now I wish
To find myself the room where I might pish.
- Elisson


K-nine said...

Ah, Shakespeare.
I always liked mercutio (sp?) in that story. Romeo's best friend and smartass to the core.
Even after being run through by tybalt, he quips of his wound, "Tis not so deep as a well, nor broad as a church door, but 'twill suffice. Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man." grave meaning serious, which he never was, grave meaning dead which he would be.
I hope, that when my end comes I will have some jaunty words to drop as a go... If not, I hope my friends will invent some for me.

Henry Blowfly said...

I like the idea of having a pub meal before a bout of Shakespeare.
What was on the menu? Did you have beer? (beer is always good).

Elisson said...

Henry, you would've liked the grub. Shepherd's pie, Cornish pasties, that sort of thing... and I washed my food down with a Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout. Zounds!

Anonymous said...

... dude.... I am reminded of my bawdy ballads of Shakespeare.......


Claude said...

Can't stop laughing. You're my next shakespearian quotation the next time someone pulls the TOBE to me.