When I spotted the summary of a story focusing on Rosaline I thought this must be an update on the upcoming movie about Romeo’s “ex-girlfriend”.
Nope! “Searching for Romeo“ is a new stage musical that tells….well, basically the exact same story. Why does everybody go for Rosaline? She’s not even technically a character, she’s a name. It’s easy to say you’re walking in Tom Stoppard’s shoes, but at least Shakespeare gave him some Rosencranz and Guildenstern to work with. Stoppard didn’t, for example, invent a new character for Paris’ mother. (Yes, Searching for Romeo offers us Paris’ mother.)
For some reason the article decides to pull in Ophelia, which I thought was interesting. Spinning off a play about Ophelia is more in the Stoppard vein, I’d say. (Personally I even tried my hand at writing such a play back in college. The premise was that Ophelia was in on Hamlet’s feigned madness, and they were both having a good joke at the expense of their respective parents, until Hamlet really does lose his mind.)
What I don’t understand is the author’s summary of Ophelia’s existence:
Curiosity has long surrounded Hamlet’s love Ophelia, who dies after speaking about 170 lines in a play with more than 3,800.
“She just seems to go mad out of nowhere,” said Emily C.A. Snyder, who directed a production of “Hamlet” in which she give Ophelia more time onstage to create a stronger connection with the audience.
Ms. Snyder missed the part where Hamlet went crazy, said he never loved her, killed her father, got banished to England. Out of nowhere? Really?
Let’s have less invention of Rosaline and other characters, and more exploration into Ophelia’s character. I’m all for that idea.