Towards the beginning of the lockdown period, I read a few articles claiming that Shakespeare wrote the entirety of King Lear when he was in quarantine during an outbreak of plague.
At the time, I thought it would be fun to spend a bit of my own quarantine writing a blog post exploring how some of Shakespeare’s theatrical masterpieces would have been different if he’d composed them during the current Coronavirus lockdown.
Perhaps I was hoping that this period of self-isolation would inspire bard-like levels of productivity in me and that I would be rattling off blog posts at an unprecedented rate.
Unfortunately, it has taken me a grand total of three weeks to get round to writing this blog post and, while it is perhaps no longer as contextually relevant as it would have been back then, here are three of Shakespeare’s plays reimagined in a modern day context.
Richard III focuses (unsuprisingly) on Richard III, who wants to become King of England.
As the plot progress, Richard commits various acts of atrocity and decieit in order to eventually secure the throne for himself.
However, towards the end of the play, Richard is forced to revaluate his life priorities and the kingdom that was once so important to him suddenly becomes less significant than a simple horse.
In modern society, we have also had to reevaluate our priorities in the face of a national crisis.
In fact, if he existed nowadays, I reckon Richard would have also found himself worrying about things that were previously completely inconsequential, albeit in a slightly less dramatic, more mundane way.
The plot of MacBeth is kickstarted by a meeting between the titular character and three witches, who act as a catalyst to steer MacBeth onto his path of murderess ambition,
Had the play been set in modern day Scotland, it’s likely that the witches plans to meet MacBeth on the heath would have been somewhat scuppered by social distancing regulations.
The opening scene of the play wouldn’t have had the same ominous, spooky effect if the witches had instead been forced to arrange a Skype call to discuss the logistics of bumping into MacBeth in the local park by timing their allotted exercise walk in coordination with his.
That being said, even if the witches had been unable to meet with MacBeth, Lady MacBeth still would have probably ended up manically washing her hands, not to shield herself from all-consuming guilt, but to protect herself from an all-consuming desire to touch her face.
ROMEO AND JULIET
In some ways, Romeo and Juliet already lived under a kind of lockdown scenario and, had they lived in 2020, I’m sure the Capulets and Montegues would have had absolutelty no problems remaining 6 feet apart from each other at all times.
However, it would be perhaps be slightly more difficult for the titular characters to replicate the same intensity of passion that made their love affair so iconic if they had been forced to conduct it over Instant Messenger.