The Bard Brawl has, over the course of seven years, read aloud the entirety of William Shakespeare’s canon of plays. As co-captain of the Bard Brawl, I would like to just give a huge shout out of props to all brawlers who have come along for the ride.
“… let no quarrel nor no brawl to come taint the condition of this present hour,” Fabian
Welcome back to the Bard Brawl and to the final act of our Twelfth Nightredux!
The gauntlet of relatives, three heaping platefuls of cipâtes, your second copy of Moneyball in as many days (*pokes Niki Lambros), that the guy you made out with at the New Year’s Eve party who you later discovered was your second cousin (Dramatization, may not have happened.), you survived it all.
You made it! Pat yourself on the back, enjoy what’s left of the bubbly (we sure did) and have a listen as we wrap up Twelfth Night in true Bard Brawl style with a little NKOTB.
Side note: Enjoy the “crusher” guitar intro. We sure did.
Only one scene in this act but it’s a pretty wild one.
Orsino, that lazy, pathetic ass, has finally decided that if he wants Olivia he should probably make some sort of effort himself to win her over. He runs into Feste and Fabian outside of Olivia’s house. Insert a couple of jokes about friends and asses before Orsino sends Feste to fetch Olivia. While he waits, Viola (yup, still disguised as Cesario) notices Antonio being lead before the Duke by an officer. Orsino immediately recognises him as a pirate, but Viola tries to plead for mercy as Antonio defended her from Sir Toby and Andrew Aguecheek’s attacks.
Antonio attempts to defend his presence in Illyria by explaining that he was bewitched by Sebastian’s good looks and obvious character into making stupid decisions like exposing himself to the death penalty by being caught wandering the streets of Illyria. To make matters worse, he accuses Viola (thinking it’s Sebastian) of having refused to give back the money he had given him in trust. Of course, everybody thinks he’s a little nuts because Viola honestly has no clue what the hell he’s talking about. Both Orsino and Antonio claim to have been with “Viola” for the last 3 months.
Olivia arrives and once again refuses Orsino’s advances. To make matters worse, she hits on ‘Cesario’ who she thinks she just married an act ago. When Viola says she plans on following the person she loves, Orsino, Olivia accuses her ‘husband’ of being unfaithful. Viola denies it, of course, but just then – by total coincidence – the priest comes in and backs Olivia.
Moments later, Aguecheek comes in asking for a doctor for Sir Toby who was just injured by ‘Cesario.’ More confusion as Aguecheek blames Viola for Sebastian’s actions. As Belch and his buddies are lead out, Sebastian walks on stage. Finally we have both siblings on-stage at once! Olivia seems particularly happy at the prospect of two Cesario’s: “Most wonderful!” I’ll let you finish the porn joke in whatever way seems best to you.
Sebastian and Viola tease out the moment where they finally admit that they’re brother and sister and that, strangely, all of this is totally okay in the end. Olivia is just as happy with Sebastian, Sebastian is all too happy with Olivia’s money; Viola finally gets to have Orsino, who now seems perfectly happy to give up his hot widow for woman he has spent the entire play confusing for a boy. This will make for some interesting swinger parties.
There are a few other loose ends to warp up. They read Malvolio’s letter and realise that maybe he’s not nuts so they may as well let him out of the asylum. Malvolio accuses Olivia of having toyed with him but Olivia denies that she had anything to do with it. Malvolio swears vengeance. I imagine everybody just laughs.
We also learn that Sir Toby and Maria are getting married but I’m sure they won’t be invited to the swinger party.
New Year’s Eve has passed but there are still a couple of days before Twelfth Night which means a few more days of eating, drinking and pranks. Hope you kept some space for cakes and ale!
And don’t mind the funny-looking raisins.
On a Two Gentlemen of Verona note, there’s a new production coming out soon. “2GoV” (that’s how the cool kids send text messages or Tweets about it) is not done often, which is odd seeing as another one of those “I will love you forever but then get distracted by the first beautiful girl I see” romances is done, like, all the time.
Before everything untangles itself, Shakespeare’s going to up the ante and string us along for another act of mistaken identities and practical jokes.
Cesario (Viola in what has to be one hell of a disguise), is mistaken for Sebastian (Viola’s mystically identical twin brother) by Antonio at the end of act III. In act IV, scene 1, it’s Sebastian’s turn to be confused for Cesario. Feste mistakes him for Sebastian and only leaves after Sebastian gives him some cash. Then, Sir Toby, Fabian and Andrew Aguecheek come on stage, planning to attack the defenseless Cesario but they are beaten by Sebastian who, unlike Viola, is an able swordsman. Olivia shows up, breaks up the fight and invites Sebastian in thinking that she has finally managed to win over Cesario.
Confused yet? You shouldn’t be – I’m sure you’ve had all the practice tracking disguises when you listened to our The Taming of the Shrew Brawl.
Sebastian has never seen Olivia in his life but figures, what the hell? How often does a beautiful, rich widow throw herself at you and offer to give you everything she has? Seems like the natural thing to do. (I’m told it happens to Daniel all the time.)
If it helps, this is a composite image of the Olivia Shakespeare probably had in mind:
While Sebastian follows Olivia Wilde out of her garden and into her sex den house, Maria, Sir Toby and Feste decide that they’re going to spend scene 2messing with Malvolio. They dress Feste up as a priest who is visiting ‘Malvolio the Lunatic’ to exorcise his demons. They taunt him and toy with him until Sir Toby calls off the prank. He’s afraid that his niece Olivia will get mad at him if he pushes the joke too far. At the end of the act, Malvolio calls for some pen and paper – he means to write a letter proving that he’s not crazy.
The third scene is very short. It’s the marriage of Sebastian and Olivia. I’m not sure how this is supposed to work. Olivia thinks she’s marrying Cesario, Sebastian has no clue who he’s marrying but she’s clearly hot and has a lot of money. (See picture of Shakespeare’s inspiration above if you don’t believe me.) They don’t even have each other’s identities sorted out.
Unless they learn to communicate, I can’t see how this is going to work for either of them.
Join us next week for the final act!
Though you’re far away, you’re near in our hearts Zoey Baldwin here reading sonnet 29.
We also discuss the merits of bottled beer, stubbed-nosed or otherwise, versus tall cans. Special treat: there may also be a nod to the brilliance of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (aka Patrick Stewart) in Star Trek: First Contact.
“Should dying men flatter with those that live?”Act II, scene 1 Speakers: Richard II, John of Gaunt
John of Gaunt’s loaded and near-death. King Richard pays him a visit to his dying uncle in the hopes that the old man will die soon so he can gobble up his lands and cash. However, as his death-bed speech Gaunt tells Richard that he’s the one who in danger of dying because he’s killed his own uncle Gloucester and now surrounds himself with flatterers who are likely to run to henry as soon as he gets back to England.
“Where is the duke my father with his power?”Act III, scene 2 Speakers: Duke of Aumerle, Richard II
Things are looking pretty grim for Richard. None of his so-called friends have shown up to fight on his side. He’s screwed and he knows it. And he wants everybody else around to know that he’s royally screwed and to finally stop feeding him bullshit and telling him what he wants to hear. He knows now that kings rarely make it to retirement and that for all of his kingly privilege, he’s just like everybody else, a nobody.
“Ascend his throne, descending now from him…”Act IV, scene 1 Speakers: Duke of York, Henry Bolingbroke, Bishop of Carlisle
Surrounded by his buddies, Henry Bolingrbroke agrees to take the throne and reign as Henry IV! Except the Bishop of Carlisle have a few issues with that. See, as kings are anointed by God people can’t just decide to replace the king with someone lese. Even if they take his power, Richard II is still the rightful king. Carlisle warns that they’ll be hell to pay if they go through with this.
Henry IV’s not too happy to hear this so he just has him arrested. Problem solved.
“Great king, within this coffin I present”Act 5 V, scene 6 Speakers: Exton, Henry Bolingbroke
It only makes sense that so long as Richard II is still around, there will be a bunch of people who refuse to accept that Henry IV is the new king. Life of course would be so much simpler if Richard would just meet with an unfortunate accident and disappear from The Tower. Seems like henry might have let that slip so Exton took his cue and did the dirty work. He then comes back to court to claim his reward except that henry doesn’t want this shit to reflect poorly on him.
So can you spell scapegoat? Yup, that’s right: E-X-T-O-N.
That’s it for play number ten Brawlers! Stay tuned for our next play in the next week or two and for announcements about the upcoming 3rd volume of ‘Zounds!
Zoey Baldwin returns to the brawl and brings us a lovely reading of Sonnet 56.
And hey! Buy ‘Zounds!You’ll never regret or forget it. Volume II is OUT NOW.
Bolingbroke has the crown in hand and Richard’s been sent to the tower, so it’s all over right? Bring on the hookers and blow and incriminating British tabloid pictures!
Nope. Hank Bolingbroke’s not in the clear yet.
When scene 1 opens, Richard’s wife is waiting for him along the road which leads to the tower to say goodbye before he gets locked up for good. She seems ready to give up but Richard tries to convince her to forget about this whole Queen business and run off to France before things get ugly. And the Northumberland shows up to tell him he’s going to Pomfret instead of the Tower. That can’t be good. Richard accuses Northumberland of helping Henry Bolingbroke to the throne and believes that sooner or later Northumberland will turn on Henry.
Too right, Richard. That one’s called Henry the Fourth but you won’t be around to see it. Your wife might survive but she’ll be long gone to France by then. She wasn’t in the sequel.
Back at the Duke of York’s palace the duchess of York gives us a portrait of Richard and Henry popular appeal: while the people were pumped about Bolingbroke, they threw garbage as Richard as he walked by with his armed escort. Thankfully though, York did okay in the change of leadership and even managed to plead on his son Aumerle’s behalf that he was totally committed, 100% to the new regime. Yup. No traitorous thoughts or loyalty to Richard at all.
Except there’s this sealed letter poking out of Aumerle’s jacket which says that he, Carlisle and a bunch of other nobles are planning to overthrow the new king. Dad’s pissed but there’s only one thing this NARC can do: run off to the king and rat his son out! Mom’s suggestion: just go tell the new king you’re sorry and that you won’t hang out with those losers if you can just be part of the team, even if that means being Rutland the towel boy.
You’d think you’d try a little harder to hide something like that from your dad. I bet York never found Aumerle’s secret weed stash. (Look for his special snuff-box, the one with the white rose on it and the Latin inscription which translates to: “Death to the Lancastrians.” Joke explained here.)
In scene 3 we learn that Henry’s got a deadbeat son when York busts in demanding to speak to the king. He spills the beans on his son and when Aumerle and his mother get there. York pleads with the king to kill Aumerle for his dishonour and Aumerle swears up and down that he really wasn’t into this whole rebellion thing and that the others pressured him into it. The duchess begs for her son’s life and King Henry forgives him. He doesn’t forgive the others though. They’re still going to die.
Scene 4 is super short but it’s kind of important: Lord Exton decides that because he overheard King Henry talk about how much better things would be if Richard weren’t around, he would probably get a huge reward if he went off and killed him on his own initiative.
So off he goes. He finds Richard in his cell, passing the time by debating with himself whether he’s better off now, in prison, or when he was king and surrounded with sycophants. He’s also pretty pissed that even his horse Barbary has betrayed him: it seemed happy to be carrying King Henry around instead of his sad sack. The jail keeper comes in with his supper so Richard asks him to taste the food first but Exton’s ixnayed that. Richard knows the jig is up so he goes into Hulk mode and snatches the keeper’s axe and offs him. He hacks down another servant before Exton finally runs in and kills him.
Except what seemed like such a good idea before kinda seems like a bad idea all of a sudden.
Henry’s feeling pretty good in the final scene: the conspirators have all been found or killed and things are looking up when Exton comes in with the dead king in tow. Too bad Henry isn’t feeling it. Oh sure, he’s happy that Richard’s gone but why oh why did he have to be murdered! Oh the humanity of it all! How could you, Exton? (Is anybody buying this yet?)
Quick everyone! Look over there: a Crusade in the Holy Land! Looks like fun so let’s join in!
And they lived happily ever after until the first few lines of Henry IV, part 1.
Stay tuned for the Richard II speeches podcast, followed by act I of a play which may have appeared in the pages of the last ‘Zounds!
David Kandestin rejoins the brawl and delivers a magnetic reading of sonnet 49.
And hey! Buy ‘Zounds!You’ll never regret or forget it. Volume II is OUT NOW.
It’s been a few months since the last time the Bard Brawl threw a brew pub bash but the wait is finally over!
We’ve got something to celebrate: the latest issue of ‘Zounds!, which we’ve called Act I, Scene ii: T, is finally ready to be unleashed upon the world!
We want you to come get your Bard on with us at Brutopia, on Thursday, July 10th, starting at 8pm!
You know the place. Looks kind of like this but rowdier!
Once again, we’ll be offering copies of the latest issue of ‘Zounds! for a special Brawler price of $10 each for anyone in attendance.
We’ve also upped our game this time and in addition to some great ‘Zounds! readings, Brendt Thomas Diabo will provide some awesome live drinking music!
If you’re planning to come by – or would like to but can’t because you’re busy working on your pick-up monologues – why not swing by our Facebook Event page and let us know? And while you’re there, why not spread the word? We’d really appreciate it!
(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited by Eric Jean)
Welcome Brawlers! I know Bard Brawl nation’s been waiting impatiently for this one and here it is, the dramatic conclusion to Romeo and Juliet.
I know you’ve all been dying to find out how this play ends so here it is: they die! Yup. Juliet, dead. Romeo, dead.
“For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
And that’s it really. The end.
Well, I don’t see the point in digging up the morbid details of a teenage double suicide but here goes, I guess.
Romeo’s buddy Balthazar shows up (booted!) in Mantua in act V, scene 1. Romeo is hoping for some good news but instead he learns that Juliet died and has been entombed in the Capulet crypts.
But it’s all good though because Romeo must have received the Friar’s message that this is just en elaborate and really dangerous ruse to sneak Juliet out of Verona and get her out of having to marry Paris.
Except he hasn’t received anything so he totally believes that Juliet’s gone. What’s a lovesick fool to do? Seek out a poor apothecary who’s willing to sell you some illegal poison. Then take that vial of poison, sneak into Juliet’ tomb and drink it down so you can be united in death.
(Maybe this is a good time to say it: don’t try this at home folks.)
At the start of scene 2, Friar John drops in on Friar Lawrence. Did John get the letter to Romeo? No. Why? Friar John was helping a friend care for the sick. And then he was quarantined and forbidden to leave the city or hand off the letter to someone else who could bring it for him.
But Father Lawrence, never being one for giving up, calls for his crowbar and suits up: he’ll rescue Juliet himself and hide her at his place until he can contact Romeo again.
(Maybe they should have gone with this version of the plan in the first place?)
Act V, scene 3. Enter Paris. Yes, him again. What is he doing in the cemetery with a bunch of flowers in his hand? Why, he’s planing to cover Juliet’s bier with flowers and lie down next to her. Tonight and every night.
Paris’ page is standing looking out he whistles when Romeo shows up with Balthazar with a shovel and a crowbar (who’s making all of these crowbars?). Romeo tells his friend that he’s just going in there to get some ring back that he needs and that he should scram and ignore anything that goes on in there.
Balthazar must be as creeped out about this as I am because he instead decides that he’ll hide out and spy on Romeo for a while.
Romeo cracks open the tomb and is about to enter when he is accosted by Paris. They fight. Romeo kills Paris. With his dying breath, Paris asks to laid out next to Juliet. Yeah, sure.
Hey Paris! Get a clue. Romeo and Juliet, not Paris and Juliet. (And definitely not Paris, Romeo and Juliet.)
Romeo enters the tomb and find Juliet lying there, lifeless. So he makes this massive death-bed speech and downs the super fast-acting poison.
…and then Friar Lawrence arrives.
Balthazar tells him Romeo’s been in there doing God knows what for about half an hour. Friar Lawrence notices the bloody swords and then Paris’ body.
…and then Juliet wakes up: “Hey, where’s Romeo?”
He’s kinda sorta dead.
Juliet’s not too excited at the prospect of living the rest of her life as a nun I guess so she grabs Romeo’s dagger, stabs herself and dies.
The watch finally arrives and takes everyone into custody while they wait for the prince to show up. When he does, Friar Lawrence spills the beans on the whole crazy plan.
Finally, the prince blames the Montague’s and Capulet’s feud for causing their children’s death. Overcome with grief, the Montagues and Capulets finally reconcile.
No one cares what happens to Paris.
We’re not quite done with Romeo and Juliet yet, though. We still have a speeches podcast coming up. If you have suggestions for which speeches you would like us to talk about, let us know in the comments below!
This week, another first-time sonneteer swings by as Kathleen “Momar” Rowe delivers Sonnet 55 with “Epic Diva” effect.
And hey. Buy ‘Zounds!You’ll never regret or forget it.
Well, despite the fact that we’ve already established that postponing the wedding of Juliet and Paris from Wednesday to Thursday was totally reasonable, by the start of act IV, Friar Lawrence just isn’t on board with that. Could he be right? Is that really too soon? Obviously, Friar Lawrence is really only worried about his hide: he can’t marry one girl to two guys. Well, not in this church at least.
On the other hand, maybe Paris is right: Tybalt was just a cousin. Pretty sure Emily Post’s wedding etiquette doesn’t even have an entry for the appropriate wait time in the event of a violent and non-accidental death of a (sort of) loved one. Just stick the mourning Juliet in a social event and we’ll peer pressure those tears right out of her.
Once Paris is shooed away, Juliet pulls a Romeo and breaks down but Friar Lawrence tell her that there’s still a slim chance for her and Romeo to be together forever. Small catch: she’ll have to kill herself.
Say what? That doesn’t seem very Christian!
Actually, she’ll have to take drink one of Friar Lawrence’s roofies sleeping potions which will make her seem dead for 48 hours. That will make her family bury her in the family crypt. Romeo will then swoop in, rescue her before she suffocates, and steal her away to Mantua while Juliet faking her death and Romeo killing Tybalt blows over. Shouldn’t take more than 2-3 weeks tops, right?
Looks like everything is good to go. Friar Lawrence just needs to let Romeo know about that plan and everything will turn out perfectly.
In scene 2, Lord Capulet is busy planning the wedding when Juliet walks in and seems suddenly and mysteriously zen about the whole marrying Paris thing. She just wants to make daddy happy. Nothing suspicious about any of this at all.
Juliet retires and asks the nurse to help her pick out a suitable wedding outfit. Once she’s picked out her outfit, she dismisses her nurse and lies down on the bed with Friar Lawrence’s elixir. Can she really trust that this potion will work properly? Will she ever wake up? Is this really going to work? Only one way to find out: down the hatch!
The following afternoon, preparations for the wedding are in full swing, and Paris is just about to show up for his big day! Time for Juliet to wake up!
Except she doesn’t.
The Nurse finds her lying dead in her bed in scene 5. Everybody files into the room: mom, dad, Paris and of course Friar Lawrence. The friar tries to calm everyone down. Creepy Paris still thinks this is about him somehow and asks to lie down next to her. Lord Capulet orders the food to be served as a funeral feast, the musicians are asked to play some sad music. They agree once they’re sure they’ll still get paid, and be allowed to stick around for the buffet.
I wonder if Friar Lawrence has any idea whether his potion worked or not. I also wonder how his archbishop would feel about all of this. And where the hell is Romeo and what has he been doing in the past few days? He wasn’t in this act at all!
Guess you’ll have to wait for act 5 to see if he got our text message /email/ Facebook invite / carrier pigeon / monk-o-gram.
Please Welcome our newest sonneteer to the brawl, the legendary lord of St. Leonard, Mark Della Posta reading sonnet 39.
Mark should not be confused, however, with the other legendary lord of St-Leonard, Roberto “The Manimal” Luongo.
And hey! Buy ‘Zounds!You’ll never regret or forget it.
Welcome back to the Bard Brawl! With the madness of the ‘Zounds! launch party behind us, we were finally able to get the crew together to record act III of Romeo and Juliet where no doubt nothing but steamy love-making scenes and happily-ever-afters await us!
Lots of action in this act and it starts right away with a confrontation between Mercutio and Tybalt in scene 1. Benvolio and Mercutio are hanging out in the sun when Benvolio suggests they should probably head inside to avoid the roving bands of wild Capulets which are wandering the streets. Before they can leave though, Tybalt shows up with ‘others’ and Tybalt tries to start some shit. Mercutio seems eager to go at it too but Benvolio tries to get them to either calm down or get out of the street so they don’t get caught fighting.
Eventually Romeo shows up and tries to break things up but Mercutio just thinks he’s being a pussy and ignores him. He draws his sword; Tybalt draws his. As they fight, Romeo steps in but Tybalt uses him as a screen, skewers Mercutio and splits. Mercutio tries to crack a few jokes about being stabbed and killed in a gang war, blames Romeo for getting in his way and says “a plague on both your houses” a few times before biting the bullet. Tybalt comes back (for some strange reason) and then Romeo kills him.
Taking Benvolio’s advice, Romeo runs the hell away. Of course, as soon as he’s gone, Benvolio snitches to the Capulets, Montagues and the Prince. The prince is fed up and banishes Romeo. I would have just killed him and been done with it. I’m sure Juliet would have learned to love Paris, right?
Anyhow. Scene 2. Juliet’s waiting at home for her nurse to come back with the rest of the plan and a rope ladder for her to sneak off to marry Romeo. Eventually the nurse does come back with a ladder and some bad news. Something about Tybalt being dead. Also something important about Romeo… something about Tybalt… Romeo… Tybalt…
This goes on for a while until eventually she gets it out: Romeo killed Tybalt and has been banished. Juliet is worried she’ll die a virgin so she sends the nurse back out to fetch Romeo so he can collect his… goodbye kiss.
Since running away from the scene of the crime, Romeo’s been hiding out at Friar Laurence’s. He’s bitching and moaning about how banishment is worse than death, he’s dead without Juliet, how he wishes the prince had just killed him, yadda yadda angsty teenager stuff. Friar Lawrence talks some sense into him: ‘Hey pathetic excuse for a man (almost)! We’ll just come up with a plan to sneak her out of the city and you can still be together in Mantua until all of this blows over!” Yay!
So what’s this genius and totally fool-proof plan? Friar Lawrence says he’ll sort it out but, in the meantime, Romeo’s got some marital business to attend to in Juliet’s bed.
Even in the crazy world of R&J, death in the family means that weddings needs to be postponed. The wedding between Juliet and Paris which Lord Capulet and Paris are already planning out, and which was scheduled for the way-too-soon date of ‘this Wednesday,’ has been pushed back all the way to the much more socially respectable ‘this Thursday.’ It just seemed like the right thing to do. (It’s currently Monday morning.)
Seems like Shakespeare decided to cut out the explicit portion of this act (bummer) because when scene 5 opens, Romeo and Juliet have already consummated their marriage and are lying in bed doing what all young couples do after their first time: discussing ornithology. They’d love to lay there and talk about nightingales and larks all day (are these even indigenous to Italy?) but Lady Capulet comes knocking. Romeo sneaks out the window, educating young boys the world over in the proper behaviour after such a nocturnal encounter: “I’ll call you.”
Juliet isn’t convinced this is all going to work out.
Once the coast is clear, she lets her mother in. Lady Capulet first promises her that as soon as they find Romeo, they’ll kill him for Tybalt’s death which she is sure will make Juliet very happy. But not quite as happy as this next bit of news: Juliet’s going to get married to the amazingly wonderful and bland Paris who her parents totally approve of!
No way, mom and dad: I’m into bad boys!
Dad’s not too happy and basically tells her that she has two alluring options: either she can shut up and show up to marry Paris on Thursday or she can choose to be disowned by her father who would cast her out to starve in the streets.
What can she possibly do now? Run over to Friar Lawrence who’s probably had enough time to think of something by now.
While things are looking pretty grim right now, in an alternate universe where it’s always 1988, Romeo and Juliet had a daughter and this lovechild of a torrid night of passion produced this:
Here’s hoping you aren’t crying yourself to sleep each night to this song while thinking about the Romeo and Juliet who could have been but whose love was ruined by people with no appreciation for fedoras, round shades, trench coats, big hair and sand.