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Q&A with Olivier Award-nominated Artistic Director of Lost Dog

Published By Duke Arts / published on: January 11, 2024

Duke Arts Presents shares the real story of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers through Lost Dog’s innovative Juliet & Romeo at Reynolds Industries Theatre on January 25–26. Learn more about this humorous and heartfelt performance about love, loss and longevity in a Q&A with Ben Duke, the Olivier Award-nominated Artistic Director of Lost Dog and director of Juliet & Romeo.

Photo of Ben Duke by Sarah Weal

Juliet & Romeo — Is this the story of what might have happened had Romeo and Juliet lived?

Yes. When I watch Romeo and Juliet I am always hoping that their timings will be a little different and Juliet will wake up a few moments earlier. I know she never will but I can’t help hoping for it. The idea for this piece came from allowing myself to imagine that alternate version. In this work they’ve been together about 25 years.

 

Are they happy and how do they feel about each other?

At the point that this piece is set they are in something of a marital crisis. Basically, they love each other and sometimes they wish the other one were dead. The bloom of teenage romance has faded but it haunts them.

 

What inspired you to make it?

A feeling that we aren’t that honest about relationships in our culture and that too many stories focus on how relationships start rather than how they continue.

 

Had you seen stage/film versions of the original before you made your piece?

I have seen several versions. Baz Lurhman’s film version came out at a time when I was particularly impressionable and is lodged in my memory.

 

Describe their characters.

Romeo is in the middle of a mid-life crisis and so his character is trying to re-shape itself. He is trying to let go of the passionate, over the top teenager he was and become a Man. But he doesn’t have any clear idea what that Man should look like so he is in limbo.  Juliet is very attached to the extraordinary teenager she was and is finding the ordinariness of her current life a struggle.

 

Will the audience like them?

At times – if you had them round for dinner you would probably find them a little self-obsessed.

 

What do you hope audiences will take away with them after seeing the work?

A sense of realistic optimism about the state of their relationships – past, present or future.

 


Lost Dog: Juliet & Romeo

Thursday, January 25 | 7:30 PM
Friday, January 26 | 8 PM

REYNOLDS INDUSTRIES THEATER

Lost Dog’s show reveals the real story of Romeo and Juliet. It turns out they didn’t die in a tragic misunderstanding, they grew up and lived happily ever after.

Well, they lived at least.

Now they’re 40ish, at least one of them is in the grips of a mid-life crisis, they feel constantly mocked by their teenage selves and haunted by the pressures of being the poster couple for romantic love. They have decided to confront their current struggles by putting on a performance – about themselves. Their therapist told them it was a terrible idea.

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