10 romantic moments in Shakespeare: part 1

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08.02.2022

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, love is in the air here at Bell Shakespeare. So, we asked an expert panel to pick their favourite 10 romantic moments from Shakespeare. Here’s their first three picks.

Compiled by Andy McLean

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10. The morning after the night before, Romeo and Juliet reluctantly part ways

Yes, the balcony scene is more famous. And the death scene is more of a tear-jerker. But Act 3 Scene 5 contains the moment where Romeo and Juliet bid one another a desperate, reluctant farewell. They’ve just spent their one and only night together as husband and wife, and this is as good as it will ever get for the doomed pair.

“There’s such beauty and romance in them wanting to hold onto one another for as long as possible,” says Bell Shakespeare Associate Director James Evans. “Upon hearing birdsong, wishful thinking makes Juliet say, It was the nightingale, and not the lark’, but Romeo reluctantly replies, ‘It was the lark, the herald of the morn, / No nightingale’. The two of them just want to soak up every single moment with each other before they have to split.”

9. A spellbound Titania falls madly in love with Bottom

Shakespeare was adept at writing characters from all walks of life – from kings to peasants, and from teenagers to seniors. And he really excelled himself when he conjured up the fairy queen Titania and Bottom the weaver. Some mischievous fairy magic gives Bottom the head of a donkey, and then makes Titania fall head over heels in love with him.

Author and teacher Brendan P Kelso says he loves the unorthodox romance of this scene, “because of the joy that Bottom feels when someone of Titania’s calibre falls for him.” Clumsy, feeble-minded Bottom is punching above his weight but Titania is blissfully unaware, describing him an ‘angel’, ‘wise’ and ‘beautiful’. And Bottom nails it when it he says: ‘reason and love keep little company together’.

  • Bell Shakespeare will stage the world premiere of The Lovers – a musical inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream – at Sydney Opera House from 23 October – 20 November.

8. A fleeting moment to cherish for the Macbeths

Much has been written and said about the nefarious and murderous behaviour of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, but their mutual love for one another is often overlooked. That’s a mistake, according to Bell Shakespeare Resident Artist in Education, Huw McKinnon. “The moment when Macbeth returns home from war and Lady Macbeth sees him for the first time is one of the most romantic moments in Shakespeare,” he says. “Moments before this, Lady Macbeth is reading a letter from her husband and then invoking evil spirits to fill her up. Then she sees Macbeth walk into the room and – we don’t get long but – that moment is electric; it gives me goosebumps. She says, ‘Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor,’ referring to his recent promotion. He calls her ‘my dearest partner of greatness’ and ‘my dearest love’. I mean, holy smoke, what a thing to say to somebody! It’s just about the most romantic thing you could say.”

To be continued…

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