Putting the Fun Back into Funerals: Dealing/Dallying With Death in Romeo and Juliet


Kiki Lindell


This essay takes as its point of departure a Romeo and Juliet course-cum-production at Lund University in the spring of 2014. Concentrating on three particular points in the play (Juliet’s mock death in 4:4, the deaths of Paris, Romeo and Juliet in the Capulet tomb in 5:3, and the transition from stage death to final bow), it raises the question: exactly when, and how, are we allowed, are we allowed, or even encouraged, to laugh at tragedy and death in Shakespeare’s plays?

In this production, we repeatedly found ourselves exploring the boundary between comedy and tragedy; one of the main concerns came to be how to avoid playing the tragedy before it actually happens, and achieve an encounter with it as unprepared, perhaps, as that of a sixteenth-century penny-stinkard sneaking into the playhouse late and missing the Prologue.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.