I’m in the middle of a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet—very popular this year with the re-mount of it on Broadway last fall starring Orlando Bloom as Romeo. It got bad reviews and closed, but still, Orlando Bloom as Romeo? I’d take some of that action. J
So as I’ve been working on the show, I’ve also been contemplating how many romances have used the “star-crossed lovers” theme. There have been a lot of movies with this theme, including West Side Story, Romeo Must Die, Gnomio and Juliet, and Warm Bodies.
And of course my favorite contemporary Romeo & Juliet: Twilight. As soon as my daughter described the story to me I thought “Romeo & Juliet with vampires.” This could be one reason why the series did so well. What teenage girl doesn’t think Romeo and Juliet romantic?
Although, technically it’s not a romance, is it? The cardinal rule of romance is it must have an HEA. R & J most definitely does not. Yet we think of their love and strife as a pinnacle of romance that we wish to experience again and again.
After I had written Time Enough to Love, my medieval novel, I was at a writer’s conference and in one of the workshops the speaker said we should take iconic storylines and use them in our work. So I started thinking about my book and after taking into consideration certain scenes, I came to the realization that I had taken elements of Romeo & Juliet in my book. If you’ve read Betrothal or Betrayal, you can probably see Geoffrey and Alyse as star-crossed lovers, but it becomes more apparent in the third part, Beleaguered. It was unconscious—I never thought about how the stories were similar until months later at the conference. But I think it gives the book an additional layer for the reader to identify with.
Do you have a favorite Romeo & Juliet adaptation in either book or movie? Have you used the star-crossed lovers theme in one of your works?