Thursday, May 13, 2010

Such Tweet Sorrow - applause

Previous posts:
Such Tweet Sorrow posted on April 12th, 2010.
Indescribable posted on April 18th, 2010.

For never was a tale of more woe,
Than this of Juliet, and her Romeo.

That may be true. But this afternoon, when I told Steve that the five-week Twitter production of Such Tweet Sorrow was finally over, and he jokingly asked "was there a happy ending?" the answer, strangely, was Yes.

I mean, okay, four out of six characters died. But the difference in the medium changed the place where the play ended and therefore the feel of the ending.

If you see Romeo and Juliet on stage or film, you barely have time to wipe your eyes at the end of the suicide scene before you are presented with the Prince's summing-up and a curtain call.

In real-time, however... Juliet drank the sleeping draught on Tuesday night. Romeo found her early on Wednesday morning. For about an hour he agonised over what to do... then his not-so-quick drugs took another hour to work, and all we knew was silence until Juliet awoke. She took half an hour to assess the situation, sent out a heartfelt goodbye to her sister (Jess, the "nurse"), and then it was silence again until Jess found the bodies. Those long silences really took an emotional toll on the involved audience (affectionately known as #teamchorus).

Too upset to be delivering a neat and tidy epilogue, Jess spent the afternoon and evening railing at her father and portraying despair in messages that were chillingly close to those sent by the young lovers before their deaths... followed by... silence. Jess being an altered character, no one knew whether she would be likely to do something drastic. I went to bed on Wednesday night half expecting to hear news that she, too, had killed herself - the relief on Thursday morning when she tweeted complaining of a hangover was immense. Especially since Jess was one of the more likeable characters.

Over the course of the morning, Jess (and the audience!) got to grips with the facts of the deaths with the benefit of a night's sleep. The summing-up was then delivered as dialogue between Jess and the Friar and although there was a sense of loss, there was also a sense of survival and new beginnings. It felt like a positive ending.

Apparently there is a curtain call tomorrow, which I am very much looking forward to. If nothing else, I need to tell Charlotte Wakefield that it's just Juliet I couldn't stand, and that since Juliet is now dead, I no longer bear her any ill will. I might have *ahem* been a little bit aggressive about my dislike of Juliet and I really hope the actress doesn't take it personally.

Was this an accessible performance? For me, yes. Certainly it saved me from having to deal with practical access issues in and around Stratford in order to experience an RSC production (although I still want to do that one day). And the beauty of Twitter is that if you need to sleep or medicate or stretch or rest or throw up, all of the play is right there waiting for you to catch up on when you come back. However, there were a lot of tweets, and I know several people had to drop out on that basis - in many ways it is easier to devote two hours of undivided attention to the play in isolation, than to immerse yourself into a production that has more in common with a role-playing game than a theatre visit.

I will definitely want to be involved in another Twitter-Shakespeare project. A large part of that is because it is a case of "being involved" rather than merely "watching". Accessible interactive theatre in your own home, where you respond to the characters and the characters respond to you - it beats TV.

All that remains is to stand and applaud:

The Cast
@romeo_mo - Romeo Montague - James Barrett
@julietcap16 - Juliet Capulet - Charlotte Wakefield
@LaurenceFriar - Laurence Friar - Geoffrey Newland
@mercuteio - Mercutio - Ben Ashton
@tybalt_cap - Tybalt Capulet - Mark Holgate
@Jess_nurse - Jess "Nurse" Capulet - Lu Corfield

Charles Hunter

Roxana Silbert

Bethan Marlow
Tim Wright

All at Such_Tweet, The RSC, Mudlark, 4ip, and Screen WM.

My fellow #suchtweet Groundlings including #teamchorus and #mercutiogroupies

and the mysterious @jago_klepto...


Clara Belle said...

I think the fact that you disliked Juliet so much is actually a good sign. You were able to see her as an annoying person rather than an actress. I didn't feel as much animosity towards her as you did, Larry was the one who annoyed me. I enjoyed being part of the experiment.

Hyperchondriac said...

geat post. i really enjoyed reading all 3! let's hope we get some answers fom @such_tweet tomorrow! is it bad if i have a crush on @mercuteio still?

Mary said...

@Clara Belle - exactly. It's a compliment to the acting that the character came across in a way that provoked those emotions. Larry got a little bit of my wrath as well, but I think he got less of it because I have to deal with patronising do-gooders on a regular basis and am used to it, whereas teenage drama queens I tend to simply avoid.

@Hyperchondriac - do you mean is it bad because he's dead, or is it bad because he's fictional?

Katie said...

I thought it was great and did enjoy it but got distracted (and quite obsessional about) the election and subsequent politicking which was taking over my twitter feed, my sleeping pattern, and general sense of normal life. (I can't help it, I love all that stuff.)

As a result, rather than watching the story unfold day by day, I ended up reading it in chunks every few days, which lost some (but not all) of the effect. It also meant I couldn't interact with the characters, which made me feel a bit uninvolved.

More notably I didn't keep up with the #suchtweet hashtag and was very slow on the uptake with Jago who, when I cottoned on, turned out to be a brilliant addition who would've much increased my enjoyment had I discovered him sooner, as would banter with the other followers. (I'd created my own list and not noticed Jago existed.)

Basically, I think it would've been extraordinary if I'd followed it more closely, but in the end I wasn't quite committed enough. (The Cameron, Clegg, Brown soap opera had enough drama and sub-plots for me at the time.)

If they do another one, I'll definitely follow it but will have to try and be more committed to it to get the full effect.