Anorak News | Romeo Y Julieta

Romeo Y Julieta

by | 8th, August 2006

LIVE theatre. Isn’t it just great!

The deafening silence as you stand on stage, dressed in your best underwear, and deliver the punch line.

The smell of wet anoraks as the crowd takes refuge from the rain outside with a seat at your performance of Hamza On Trial: The Musical.

And the click-clack of seat backs popping up to the empty position as your audience of two (both mum and dad are here) nip out to feed the parking meter.

It is hard work being a player at the Edinburgh Fringe. But it could be worse – imagine having to perform sober!

And things may yet get more trying for the cast, in particular the comedian Mel Smith. In Edinburgh to play Winston Churchill in Allegiance, a play about the wartime leader’s relationship with Michael Collins, Mel has been told that he cannot smoke on stage.

The city’s environmental officers visited the Assembly Rooms, the theatre where the play is on, and ordered a ban on smoking. Winston Churchill must not smoke on stage. He should not put anything in his mouth that is lit. If he must suck on something, then a carrot or spring onion are preferred.

Smoking in a public space is against the rules. As the paper says, any breach of the rules will incur a £200 fine and possibly revoking of the show’s licence.

So the smoking scenes will have to be altered. As reported by the Times, the original text has Churchill offering Collins a smoke. “You have long way to go if you have never enjoyed a Romeo y Julieta,” oozes Churchill, sounding like a pretentious poser. “[They] are rolled on the thigh of a Cuban maiden.”

At this point Collins may vomit. But chances are that spewing on stage is also banned. So Collins may be forced to swallow hard and politely shake his head and decline.

So much for the play. What of the ruling? "I think it’s absurd. In the context of an international festival like this, it’s crazy,” says William Burdett-Coutts, the artistic director of the Assembly Rooms. “It’s integral to the part of Churchill and it doesn’t affect other people."

But he’s wrong. The smoking on stage does affect other people, especially other smokers who may well start hanging over the end of the stage to inhale a whiff of the burning cigar.

Or use the smoke as a screen under which they can sneak out…

Posted: 8th, August 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink