I recently had the honor of playing Friar Laurence in a production of Romeo and Juliet. The Friar is the brilliant thinker who marries the two teens on the sly, hustles one out into the country, gives the other one fake poison, over-relies on the postal service, and in about 48 hours ushers each one to a dramatic suicide. This after giving a boatload of advice including, “wisely and slow; they stumble who run fast.” That’s fer sure.
Each night, as things inexorably rolled from happy to shitty, I’d joke backstage, “well it seemed like a good idea” or “Jesus friar, they’re thirteen for fuck’s sake.” Questions arose, like why does the friar have a SuperRoofie that can put someone totally out for 48 hours anyway? Another actor said, why not just get Juliet outta Verona and put her on a bus headed for Romeo’s hideout? Good question.
The best morals I can draw from this are: 1)beware of trying to solve other people’s problems, and especially, 2) beware of people who are bent on solving your problems for you.
I personally am guilty of the first. I’ve been an uber-listener and giver of advice all my life. In fact when I was ten I put a sign on my door, “the Psychiatrist is IN” Not a good sign.
The second I guess Zamboni himself could be guilty of. But he often makes clear in his advice to people that he is merely getting people to admit what in their hearts they already know. At least when he’s at his best he is.
Friar Laurence takes it upon himself to bring two lovers together, which is ironic since he can’t have this himself. He loves Romeo, absolutely, but he ends up destroying him. Is all his “help” just a subconscious way of destroying what he loves? A revenge for his own celibacy? I don’t know, but as the good book says, I think, “by their fruits shall ye know them” and the fruits of his help be rotten.
So beware of those bent on helping you, and beware of asking for help. You might be better off reading Shakespeare, and then just going it alone.
Then again, don’t listen to me, I’m the friar. -jw