Peter Bloedel's Play, "The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet"

Actors participate in an outdoor play
David Corio

Shakespeare meets Dr. Seuss in Peter Bloedel’s The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet. The playwright has taken Dr. Seuss’s iconic rhyming tetrameter format and rewritten those famous star-crossed lovers into a one-act play.

Overview

All of the memorable moments from the three-hour Shakespearean saga are present: The prologue, Juliet’s betrothal to Paris, Romeo crashing the Montague’s (here Monotone’s) party, the nurse discovering Romeo’s identity, the tower (balcony) scene, Romeo and Juliet eloping in secret, Tybalt and Mercutio’s fight scene, Romeo’s banishment, Juliet faking her death, and Romeo finding her in her tomb.

There is, however, a twist ending that is very Dr. Seuss—no one dies. A Cat In The Hat machine instantly changes everyone into friends and they all live happily ever after. To wrap it up, Bloedel has added two alternate endings as well. The first alternate ending recaps the whole play in a page and a half and the second ending recaps it even faster and backward.

The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet is set on an empty stage and has few lighting or costume notes. It is, however, a prop-heavy show: rolling beds, a Cat-in-the-Hat-inspired machine, crackers, balloon swords, a bullhorn, gum, and much much more. If you have the budget, designers, and tech crew to create the sets and costumes, this script provides an excellent challenge—determining how Dr. Seuss might reimagine Verona and Verona’s two infamous families.

Comparison

The language of this play requires just as much attention, interpretation and understanding as Shakespeare’s does. Here are two excerpts; the first is a passage from the original play and the second is the “Seussification” of the same passage.

Shakespeare

"Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife."

Shakespeare "Seussified"

"Verona’s the place from where our play is picked.
Two families lived there, and man were they ticked.
Their ancient grudge match happened before the story,
And rekindled hatred made their feud more gory.
Straight from the loins of those mentioned above…
Popped kid one…
And kid two…
And they fell in love.
Kid one and kid two, later each took their life…
As a result of their parental strife.
Their families to fighting and feuding were fettered,
But, somehow the death of their kids make it better."

It is important to note that even though the dialogue is easier for young actors to comprehend, it still requires understanding and practice of meter, rhythm, rhyme, and nuanced delivery.

See the Play

You see a production that was directed by the playwright on YouTube. The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet is also available for purchase for production from Playscripts, Inc. It is also part of the collection in the book Random Acts of Comedy: 15 Hit One-Act Plays for Student Actors. There is a longer version of The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet available. It follows the same format but its two acts (instead of one) have a run time of approximately 90 minutes.