Written by Marty Ross, inspired by William Shakespeare
We find ourselves following the life of a young man called Jude who is rehearsing Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in a local village hall. He eventually falls in love with a fellow actor who works at the local factory in which he relies on funds from Jude's aggressive , bullying and homophobic Father.
It is a deeply moving adaptation and the treatment the two lovers are faced with is darkly
disturbing. There are beautiful moments such as when the two run away to Stratford following an horrific falling out and physical homophobic attack from Jude's ignorant Father and cousin, and it is then that the adult realities of being in love with someone and choosing to spend your life with them in the real world (post romantic 'running away') really hits this couple. It is a "young lover's" story but our Romeo in this version is not a young man (something that is spun and used against him by the
prejudiced characters we encounter).
So the question arises. How are they to live? What will they do for money? And where will they go? They are madly in love but "Romeo" is the much more pragmatic of the two and knows that whilst being in love is euphoric and amazing and even at times over-whelming, eventually they will need to find somewhere to live, make money and survive. They cannot stay on the run for ever.
It is an incredibly interesting 21st Century look at the idea of Romance and the story beautifully riffs on the original play and how the couple, (in the original) try to deal with Romeo's banishment and how in this version one of the two is dealing with his own sexuality and becoming who he truly is. In that sense it is still the story of "young" love, as this experience of discovering something new about oneself and ones sexuality (and the pre-conceived ideas about ones sexuality) is akin to the love at first sight and growing in to adulthood of Romeo and Juliet.
It is a moving story that tackles issues from homophobia to what it's like to want to be an actor, being in love with Shakespeare and the theatre and being in love with a man. Although like Romeo and Juliet itself it isn't their particularly sexuality that is really what this story is about. It is a love story that tells of prejudice. Whether that is familial prejudice (Capulet's and Montague's) or Homophobia. This story is relevant on so many different levels.
It may seem long at 5 hours and takes until about 1 Hour and 30minutes in before it really gets in to the swing of things. You will have to have Amazon's Audbile service (you can get a free 30 day trial - and I think that would give you access to one credit). Sadly Audible is not really a great service and I got to 3 Hours and 43 minutes and it took several buffering attempts on various different computers and devices over a week before I could finish the rest of the story, which was a real shame. One hopes it will be picked up by a service without a paywall, like the BBC Radio's Drama dept, as it deserves a wider audience.