Shakespeare in Delaware Park is a Buffalo tradition going back more than thirty years. What could be better than taking in a play on a midsummer’s night? How about taking it in for free? That’s an English major’s dream. I am no sonneteer, but after the performance I saw one night, I had to give it a stab.
On one side of the hill the players were performing Romeo and Juliet. On the other, a wedding reception was taking place. The DJ’s music and announcements blended with the performance to create a weird, postmodern treatment of Shakespeare.
What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?
SERVINGMAN I know not, sir.
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
Ladies and gentlemen, attention please:
R2J369, your lights are on.
And then there was the fated couple’s first dance.
What’s he that follows here, that would not dance?
I know not.
Last chance for the dollar dance, everyone.
Reach in your wallets for the bride and groom.
Go ask his name. If he be marrièd,
My grave is like to be my wedding bed.
I don’t want to ruin the end for anyone, but in Act V, Juliet sticks herself with a knife. As she hit the floor that night, “Love Shack” was playing in the background. And with that, a sonnet was born.
July doth Buffalo occasion bring
Anew the nights of Shakespeare in the Park.
But alack! alas! should your cell phones ring,
A plague upon your houses all. But hark—
For over yonder hill and distant dale,
Sounds and songs of the wedding feast pass through.
This day the bridegroom has lifted the veil;
Unto all is heard The B-52s.
Then thunder! Cursèd weatherman trusted.
Saith Juliet, “O happy dagger!”
Screamith the reception: “Tin roof! rusted.”
The lovers, dead; rain begins to splatter.
Perchance ominous beginnings beget
Some tragedy no bard has written yet.