When all the world's in lockdown we turn to William Shakespeare for inspiration on how to cope at this unusual time.
One of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches is the Seven Ages of Man speech in As You Like It. We took a few liberties with our favourite playwright's works to create the Seven Ages of Lockdown.
The first age - SEPARATION
One of the main aspects of the lockdown is that it is keeping us away from people we love. Romeo and Juliet were of course separated from each other, first when Romeo stands at the bottom of Juliet's balcony (surely at least two metres away!), and then, of course he is banished, meaning they can’t see each other at all.
The second age - washing your hands
One of the best pieces of advice to help keep Covid 19 at bay is to ensure we wash our hands thoroughly. Lady ‘out damn spot’ Macbeth would surely have been an expert handwasher.
The Third Age - EATING EVERYTHING IN SIGHT
When you’re at home pretty much all of the time, then food seems to be an even bigger deal than normal, not that Falstaff needed any excuse to indulge in one of his favourite passions - eating. As Mistress Quickly says in Henry IV, “He hath eaten me out of house and home; he hath put all my substance into that fat belly of his.”
The fourth age - DRINKING EVERYTHING IN SIGHT
Falstaff also enjoyed a good cup of sack (a sweet wine), and being at home might make some of us indulge in a tipple a little more often than usual (alcohol sales are up by around a third). Caliban certainly enjoyed some ‘celestial liquor’ with Trinculo and Stephano in The Tempest.
The fifth age - MAKING MISCHIEF
Stopping at home is giving us more time to think, and maybe play tricks on each other. Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream certainly knew all about making mischief. First off he transforms the weaver, Bottom into an ass, and then, using the power of a magic ‘love’ potion, makes Queen of the Fairies, Titania fall in love with Bottom, donkey ears and all!
The sixth age - valuing what we can't have
Being kept at home has made us long to do things like seeing our friends, dancing, playing sports, and, of course, going to the theatre – things that we once took for granted. With the words of Friar Francis from Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare manages to encapsulate the way many of us might be feeling now:
'For it falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
While it was ours.'
The seventh age - BEING BACK TOGETHER
Lockdown will end and we will be reunited with our friends and family. After years apart the Dromio twins from The Comedy of Errors are eventually reunited, and end the play walking off together, ‘hand in hand’.