Adaptation of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet plays out over Twitter as 'Such Tweet Sorrow'
Adaptation of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet plays out over Twitter as 'Such Tweet Sorrow'

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has been given a 21st century makeover. The star-crossed lovers' tragic romance is being retold in real time on the social media site Twitter - and causing quite a stir in England.

Shakespeare's plays have been performed for 400 years. But never before like this. Such Tweet Sorrow, the newest version of Romeo and Juliet, is 'tweeted' online by six actors.

They make sure key elements in the plot are there. But for the most part, they improvise.    

Juliet is tweeted by Charlotte Wakefield. She says it's no easy feat. "You have to kind of deliver so much of the story through your own written texts so it's difficult in that way because you have to get a character and a point across in 140 characters or less."

The question is, with only 140 characters and thoroughly modern slang, has the romance been lost?

James Barrett says his Romeo character still has it. "Romeo was getting a bit poetic last night so they were fun, coming up with those and telling the world about my poems," he said.   

But this Internet-savvy Romeo is very much a product of the 21st century.

"I'd describe him as a normal, average 19-year-old in England today. He very much loves the lads, loves going out, having a drink, having a dance, very close to his family - his father in particular - I think he's quite normal," Barrett said.

The idea is to get young people interested in Shakespeare.

"What's great about what we're doing is it allows them to come to it in their own terms and of course the thing that young people find most alienating about Shakespeare is the language, which feels like a different language to them and this isn't in anyway attempting to copy Shakespeare's language - it's written by young people in a language they would use," Director Roxana Silbert explained.

And the language is different.  Take Shakespeare's original.

"Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged."

Juliet: "Then have my lips the sin that they have took."

Twitter talk is a different language all together. A language that appeals to British teenagers.  

And so with a little help from modern technology it looks like William Shakespeare may have won a whole new batch of followers.