Bringing a 4 year old to Romeo & Juliet.

Well… we did it. And we made it. And he loved it.

Last night I brought Max to see his dad play Romeo in Richmond Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet.

I was a little bit terrified. A little bit excited. I think he felt the same.

But we made it through the whole thing with only a couple of squirmy episodes.

Before you gawk at bringing a preschooler to Shakespeare here are some things to know.

1. He really wanted to go, I didn’t drag him.

2. We prepped him a lot.

3. I saw the show before hand so I knew what to expect.

4. We had the advantage of knowing a lot of the actors.

5. He’s been to productions at Theatre IV before so he understands theatre behavior.

6. Yes, there is some content in Romeo and Juliet that I think is not so appropriate for children. Yes, we seriously thought about that.

7. We brought Max to a fight rehearsal before the show had opened so he knew a little bit about how it all happens. He also accompanied us to rehearsals of Henry V… he’s been growing up with a lot of this.

Of course, we discussed the production over chai and wine .  I decided to tell him just a little bit of the prologue so that he wouldn’t be put off by the language and would feel like he recognized it off the bat.

He wanted to learn it…

(yep, he can explain what it means)

So last night he put on a nice shirt and he was my date to the show. An aisle seat, so we had an exit.

He recognized many of the characters immediately. Recognizing the part of Paris was a surprise to me — but Max was really interested in the part where Juliet was being forced to marry Paris but she was already married to Romeo. Which he leaned over to and explained to that to me when Paris was introduced.

There was some sex (mostly in the form of comedic gesturing) and there was some suicide (it’s true, they die) Max did very well for all of it.

He closed his eyes during the first Romeo and Juliet kiss (he talks about that here) but he tolerated them after that.  He had a few squirmy moments when there was less action and more talking. He had a stomach ache from chocolate throughout most of the show so we almost left at the top of the 2nd act but he insisted on staying through the end.  He also could not resist waving at dad occasionally and quietly chanting “go daddy go” during a couple of fight scenes.

Before bed (around midnight) he told me he liked it and that he’d like to see another Shakespeare show…

So what’s the next Shakespeare production with a Cole family member?

King Lear.


UPDATE: We’ve discussed a handful of other Shakespeare stories and I’ll post about those in the future. I wanted to send my thanks to Richmond Shakespeare for sharing this post on their blog! Thanks guys!

Feel free to post your thoughts below!

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