Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and 2 Juliets by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and 2 Juliets by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and Two Juliets

Tagline: Will the real Juliet please stand up?

Summary: A battle for stardom…

Jessica Wakefield is dying to play the part of Juliet in the Sweet Valley Middle School production of Romeo and Juliet. But during the week of auditions, she comes down with an awful case of flu! The only way she can win the part now is by getting her twin, Elizabeth, to try out—pretending she’s Jessica!

Elizabeth reluctantly agrees. She has a great audition and wins the part for Jessica. But there’s a slight problem—Elizabeth falls in love with the part and won’t give it up!

Who will get to play Juliet?

Initial Thoughts

I have been earwormed because of that tagline.

And now you have, too.

Also, the answer to that question of who will play Juliet? I’m 99.9% certain it will be Jessica, and that other .1% is that it will be both of them and they’ll take turns. In part because acting is Jessica’s thing, and Elizabeth’s thing is writing, but also because despite recent events, Elizabeth has no spine, especially when it comes to giving in to Jessica.

Romeo and Two Juliets (cover by Dove)

[Dove: I second Wing’s theory. Doesn’t Jessica always get what she wants? Also, enjoy the alternative cover by me.

Just so you all know: I loathe Shakespeare – the stories are fine, I hate the wording that everyone finds so magical. Probably because I was forced to memorise a full act of the play overnight because Mrs Martin, the worst teacher in the world, gave an exaggeratedly spiteful punishment for talking during class. And, the following day when I had spent all night memorising, hadn’t slept, was reciting it in the shower, on the bus, during assembly in preparation, she said, “Oh, I can’t be bothered to listen to you. Go away.” That’s the kind of thing that makes you hate Shakespeare. Not the fault of Shakespeare, obviously, and I enjoy modern-day retellings, but in its pure form, I loathe it. So this book was a bit of a problem for me when everyone’s like, “Yay, Shakespeare!” my brain just went, “I still fucking hate Mrs Martin.”]

[Raven: On the other side of the coin, I love Shakespeare. I studied film, theatre and television at University, and have acted in a fair few Shakespearian productions. Personally, I think that liking Shakespeare is a direct corrolation to having a good English teacher. As Dove demonstrates above.]

Recap

We open with Leslie Forsythe sneezing in English class, and Jessica giggling at her because so many people at Sweet Valley Middle School are sick with the flu or a cold that it’s a joke, basically. The flu is no joke, people. [Dove: I love how “flu” is totally interchangable with “a cold”. Except for people who’ve had the flu.]

Mr Bowman hands out copies of Romeo and Juliet, and I’m glad we’re diving straight into the a-plot. Let’s get this done.

The boys start making kissy sounds, Amy swears she’s not the kind of girl who likes the play, Dennis Cookman says boys can’t like “dumb fancy words” because ewwww, girl cooties, and Mr Bowman is frustrated with them all because Shakespeare is for everybody.

Now, I agree with this, but I know people who hate Shakespeare, so … yeah.

None of them have ever seen or read any Shakespeare work, and I promptly had to check the publication date of this one. It’s two years before Romeo + Juliet was released in the US, so I’ll buy that none of them have even seen Shakespeare.

Oh, wait, Elizabeth is in this class, too, and based on how she’s supposed to be so smart and a huge reader and ahead of her peers, I have a hard time believing she hasn’t read any Shakespeare, even an adaptation. [Raven: She’s definitely got the Complete Works in amongst her Amanda Howard.]

Same but different spiel, Elizabeth’s best friends are Amy Sutton and Maria Slater who are both serious and practical too, and Jessica thinks they’re boring. Jessica who wants glamour and to be a movie star or a model, glamourous and famous when she grows up.

So you, uh, think Maria Slater is boring and yet she’s had all those things you want? Damn, Jessica, how soon you forget.

Jessica complains Shakespeare is too hard to read, and Mr Bowman agrees it’s difficult, which is why they’re going to act it. This excites all of them despite how many people were just disparaging Shakespeare. Also: why is it always Romeo & Juliet? At least give me Macbeth. Out out damn spot indeed. [Raven: King Lear for me.]

They’re only doing the highlights of the play, major scenes and speeches, which makes it slightly more reasonable that they’re performing it in two weeks. They’ll even have costumes because the Sweet Valley High drama coach donated costumes from their last performance of it. Because these tweens fit in high school clothes so well.

They’ll even have warts for Juliet’s “old, fat nurse” and the warts are “absolutely hideous” and wow, Mr Bowman, wow. Is Lois in this class? Because I’ve got an idea of which character will get cast as the nurse if so. [Dove: I’ll admit, it’s been decades since I read this play, but I can’t honestly remember that the nurse was described at all, let alone being fat and warty. I’ll let “old” slide, since 21 year old au pairs from France weren’t the done thing yet.]

Mr Bowman has to explain to them that it’s about love, and family loyalty, and betrayal.

He makes the mistake of also saying that Shakespeare is music and they have to learn to hear his melodies. Jessica, of course, takes this literally and goes looking for the lyrics to the opening number. She’s a good singer unlike SOME PEOPLE aka her BFF Lila. Music video reference, so some continuity win. [Wing: Note from the future. The LAST continuity win, big time.] [Dove: So… the twins can sing again? Because in the last book, they sound like cats dying.]

They then talk about how Kiss Me Kate is a modern-day musical based on The Taming of the Shrew; Lila makes a point of reminding Jessica that there’s never been a musical version of Romeo and Juliet.

Possibly true that there was no straight up Romeo and Juliet musical then, definitely not true now.

A more traditional story in Romeo et Juliette

and what appears to be much less traditional.

And now I really want to go see a musical version.

Of course, there is an adaptation of the play that is a musical, the amazing West Side Story.

DANCE. FIGHTING.

I love musicals so much. [Raven: I hate the disconnect created when someone looks out of a window and goes “it’s looking cold outside…. (ah-one-two-three-four) Button up your overcoat, fa la de twiddly dee!” Then again, some of my favourite shows are musicals. What can I say, I’m a fucking enigma.]

They’re auditioning next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday — wait a fucking minute. It is Monday. They are performing a week from Friday. That means that they’re taking all week for audition prep, audition the next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, rehearse Thursday and Friday, and perform that Friday night.

WHAT THE FUCK, GHOSTIE. Can you not keep consistency within the first goddamn chapter?

Lila and Jessica argue over whether Lila is the Juliet type, whether she has acting talent, etc. Janet takes Lila’s side, of course, and then Bruce Patman rocks up to be smarmy at them. Fuck off, Bruce. Well, until he says that Maria Slater is the only one who could truly bring Juliet to life, so points for that. Unfortunately, you’re so far in the negative you will never recover.

Mandy says Maria wants to work crew because she’s never worked behind the scenes before. She … hasn’t? Oh, I guess not, she was a screenwriter that one time with the slime. [Dove: Shame it’s not being filmed, given that she’s soooo good at filming stuff.]

Then Bruce says Mandy should get the lead, but Mandy’s going to work on costumes.

More arguing and then Jessica and Lila agree to a bet that whoever doesn’t get the role has to wear a face full of those prop warts for a full week after the play.

Amy and Elizabeth swoon over how beautiful and romantic the play is, because of course they do. Amy tries to apply the story to her and Ken, because the Suttons and Matthewses argue all the time. When Elizabeth shoots that down with some fun logic (they argue over bridge, not hatred, Ken’s not allowed over because Amy’s dad has chicken pox, etc.), Amy decides that Elizabeth is the romantic hero because she has Todd and she’s always saving people. Todd’s not her boyfriend, Elizabeth is quick to tell her, but she’s blushing and a little pleased.

Jessica bursts into the room wearing a crown made of aluminium foil, a chiffon scarf attached to the back of it, and an old black velvet pinafore left over from several Christmases ago. She dramas around the room reciting some of the the actual lines and then going off into other famous speeches. She hasn’t read the play yet, she’s just trying to get into character.

She’s particularly worried because Lila is having a professional theatrical costumer in New York send her a Juliet costume, and Jessica knows she can’t compete without a good costume even though she’s the better actor. The solution: velvet.

…right. [Dove: Velvet was the kiss of death in the last book. I am confuse.] [Raven: Maybe velvet was the height of fashion in Verona?]

Elizabeth spoils the whole death at the end thing and sends Jessica off to read it, and she actually does. And she loves it, it’s tragic and even better than her beloved Days of Turmoil.

I am utterly delighted by this. [Raven: Me too, but I have a hard time believing a bunch of eleven-year-olds can decipher Shakespeare without a little guidance from a teacher on first pass. Not even Elizabeth Wakefield. Not that I’d expect any guidance from the SVMS staff, of course.]

She spends dinner explaining the play to her family because she’s so excited about it. Steven accuses her of making stuff up when it comes to the 48-hour fake death part, but Ned puts him back into his place even though Steven allegedly saw it when the high school did the play. It’s not like they’re usually mandatory, damn.

Jessica finishes telling them the story, and Steven gets caught up in the drama and frustration of it himself what with the fake death and the real death and then the other real death. It truly is a romantic tragedy.

Jessica spends the rest of the week practicing for the audition at all hours of the day, until even her parents and Elizabeth think she sounds natural at it. Good for her. She’s done it so often that even Elizabeth has the lines stuck in her head. Gee, won’t that be convenient.

There’s a whole lot of Jessica performing different scenes in front of people, and it’s cute and all, but not really fun recapping, except for the point where Elizabeth and Steven recite Juliet’s dagger scene along with Jessica and they all stab themselves with their makeshift daggers. That’s kind of adorable, really. [Dove: This somewhat melted my icy heart. Also the scene where Jessica didn’t particularly like her dinner and used Shakespearian language to plead her case, which utterly charmed her parents.]

Elizabeth dreams of Todd and Romeo and Juliet and having a hoarse voice with coughing — and wakes up to Jessica actually losing her voice. She refuses to stop running lines, though.

Elizabeth and Amy run into Lila and Janet looking at make-up for Lila’s audition. Not only does she have make-up plans and the costume, but she’s been practicing with Tom McKay. That actually worries Elizabeth a little, because as good as Jessica is, she hasn’t practiced with anyone, and that might make a big difference. I’m surprised you didn’t offer to run lines with her.

Oh, wait, Elizabeth’s going to go home and do exactly that.

Jessica wakes up sneezing and coughing and with a sore throat. She tries to fake her way to health (which is a switch for her, who would normally kill, sometimes literally, to stay home from school), but Alice is having none of it.

Janet accuses Jessica of making Elizabeth tell everyone she’s sick so she can miss all three days of auditions and get out of the bet on a technicality. Elizabeth is annoyed as hell by this, even though it sounds exactly like the kind of thing Jessica would do in another situation.

Jessica eats chicken soup and watches Days of Turmoil, then daydreams about Flame giving her advice on how to hide her illness with make-up. She then daydreams about winning an Oscar and uses one of Steven’s basketball trophies. He catches her doing this and teases her a little, but Elizabeth forces her to get some rest because Janet won’t let her call off the bet just because she can’t audition.

But she’s running a fever that night and Alice says she has to stay home from school another day. She bursts into tears and it’s actually rather sad, not just too dramatic. She’s worked so hard for this and it means so much to her. And, as we all know, I have a bit of a soft spot for when Jessica loves acting.

The next morning, Jessica uses all sorts of make-up to try to look healthier and somehow this fucking works. I can only assume the stress of actual parenting sent Ned and Alice into the bottle and they’re too drunk to notice the next morning.

Oh, wait, no, Jessica left a fucking note and came to school early to “borrow somebody’s notes from yesterday’s history class.” Oh my god, Jessica, I fucking love you. Also, sorry Alice and Ned. Alice is apparently annoyed and tempted to march over to the school and drag Jessica home.

Elizabeth talked her into not doing it because of Jessica was healthy enough to get up and get to school so early, she can probably make it through the day, but now that she sees Jessica, she’s not sure she was right. What, Elizabeth admitting she might not have made the right choice? I never.

One of the teachers sends Jessica to the nurse who says she has a fever, the glands in her neck are swollen, and her tongue and throat are red and raw. She has to go home. As she should, because she sounds goddamn contagious.

After school, Elizabeth fills her in on what happened at auditions. Denny, Todd, and Jake all tried out for Romeo. Denny was okay, Jake was really good, and Todd was so great he’s going to read opposite all the auditioning Juliets on Wednesday.

ONCE AGAIN, WHY THE HELL ARE AUDITIONS TAKING THREE DAYS? WHY ARE THEY HAPPENING TWO DAYS BEFORE WE WERE TOLD THE PERFORMANCE WILL TAKE PLACE? WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY.

Why.

Elizabeth swoons over how mature and grown-up and romantic Todd seemed while reading for Romeo, and she almost wishes she could play Juliet opposite him.

Caroline and Ellen auditioned for Juliet and they were terrible, they didn’t have any idea what the words meant, but Lila wasn’t bad and the costume really did add something to it. First, that’s cheating. Second, IF YOU’RE DOING THREE GODDAMN DAYS OF AUDITIONS, WHY AREN’T ALL THE PEOPLE READING FOR A CHARACTER DOING IT ON THE SAME DAY WTF IS EVEN GOING ON HERE GHOSTIE. [Raven: Ludicrous.]

Mostly, this is cute and fun, but the structure of the damn plot is killing it for me.

Elizabeth is determined to help Jessica get well enough to audition tomorrow afternoon even if she’s not healthy enough to go to school. There is no way she should be allowed to audition if she doesn’t go to school, but whatever.

She’s still sick that night, though, and Alice makes a doctor appointment for her, but the earliest they can get in is Wednesday afternoon right around the same time as the audition. Elizabeth has to break the news to her, and Jessica gets inspired and asks Elizabeth to audition for her. Which would come as a real shock except for the title and summary and blurb and cover and — well, you see where I’m going with this.

Elizabeth thinks it’s a terrible idea, Jessica pleads and bullies and wheedles her into doing it. Even the scene break is ridiculously cliched.

Elizabeth shook her head defiantly. “Sorry, Jess, but no way. No how. I refuse. I absolutely and positively refuse. N. O. No. Non. Niet. Negatory. Nay.”

“Nay,” Elizabeth said.

“Yea,” Jessica corrected.

“Yea, noise?” Elizabeth amended. “Then I’ll be brief.” She brandished an imaginary dagger. “O happy dagger! / This is thy shield.”

Blah. You are no R. L. Stine with these needlessly dramatic cliffhanger chapter endings, ghostie.

Elizabeth goes to school as Jessica and manages not to get caught out even though she’s terrible at remembering to be Jessica. She does eventually make it to auditions, and first goes off into giggles with her nerves, but when she hears Lila whispering with Janet and clearly making fun of “Jessica”, Elizabeth gets her rage on.

She pulls off an amazing (if written in a terribly dramatic way) performance, and she falls in love with acting. She feels like she’s Juliet and Todd is Romeo, and everything is golden and emotional and wonderful.

… so this is going well.

The cast list won’t be posted until Friday afternoon. Which is bullshit, because in the very first chapter we were told they’d be performing this Friday but what the fuck ever. [Dove: Timekeeper Wing has arrived to keep Timekeeper Dove of the previous book company. This is sweet.] Elizabeth and Jessica talk about Elizabeth’s performance, and Elizabeth realises she’s horribly envious of Jessica getting to play the role.

Sure enough, Jessica gets the part, and Elizabeth gets more and more frustrated as Jessica accepts everyone’s accolades. And THEN she finds out that Jessica is going to play Juliet to Todd’s Romeo, which shouldn’t be a surprise but which kicks off Elizabeth upset that Jessica’s going to play a star-crossed lover opposite Elizabeth’s Todd. Oh, good lord, is this where the competing over Todd begins? Pop culture osmosis tells me they do in SVH, but I don’t know for sure.

[Dove:

]

Elizabeth works herself up into a tizzy over the fact that she always puts Jessica’s needs over her own even when there’s something she wants. So now you’re going to grow a backbone. Damn, girl.

She tells Jessica what she wants, thinking they are twins, they are best friends, surely they can get through this. HAVE YOU EVER FUCKING MET YOUR SISTER, ELIZABETH? GODDAMN.

#jessicagoesboom

They have a huge shouting match until Alice comes in to stop them. The next day, Jessica has a bit of a relapse with her cold, one she thinks is triggered by all her tears and lack of sleep over Elizabeth. When Jessica sees that Elizabeth looks like she cried all night, too, she wants to try to make up with her, but Elizabeth gives her the cold shoulder.

So Jessica immediately goes to Todd and starts sweet talking him about how she always thought he was a good actor, she has an instinct for those things. Elizabeth storms off on hearing all this, and Lila starts to figure out what’s going on, because Elizabeth was sticking up for her a lot before, but now she’s not speaking to her, they clearly had a disagreement…. Jessica manages not to give everything away, but I’m waiting for Lila to throw a match onto this gasoline.

Jessica stops to fix her hair and make-up before going to rehearsal only to hear someone on stage reading her lines. As her. HOLY SHIT, ELIZABETH FUCKING TOOK THE ROLE BACK AND IS PRETENDING TO BE JESSICA AGAIN.

Okay, the whole setup of this plot is still stupid and badly done, but I love the hell out of this part. [Raven: Elizabeth is so much fun when she acts like Jessica.]

Jessica catches her backstage, knocks Elizabeth down by throwing a backpack at her, and takes over on stage. Good lord. You’re lucky she hasn’t literally stuck a knife in your back, Elizabeth. Don’t think you’re too good for the Mercandy backyard.

Jessica refuses to leave the stage in case Elizabeth is lurking around, even when she’s exhausted and dripping sweat from being under the bright lights and desperate for water. Finally she gives in and goes to get a drink, and Elizabeth locks her in the bathroom in the dressing room.

YES DO IT THIS IS WONDERFUL. [Dove: I must say, I love Elizabeth with a spine. It’s rarely seen but utterly joyful when it is.]

It’s over the top and dramatic and ridiculous and perfect for the twins, and I love it.

“Elizabeth, you open this door right now or I’ll kill you.” Jessica banged on the door with her fists. “Elizabeth!” she screamed again.

But there was no answer this time. Elizabeth was gone.

I’m telling you, Elizabeth, you’re this close to ending up in that backyard.

Jessica ends up telling Alice that Elizabeth is feeling a little bad she’s got a big math test the next day and she’s afraid she’ll have to stay home if Alice knows. To drive this home, she somehow subtly blows pepper into Elizabeth face and makes her sneeze. She then puts a bunch on her roast so that Elizabeth coughs. She’s also irritable, which is exactly how Jessica was.

Oh, Jessica Wakefield, you clever girl. [Raven: The whole “pepper makes you sneeze” trope is so weird. Extra pepper on food would make you gag or something, unless you’re literally inhaling it off the carrots. It’s like slipping on a banan peel. Who the hell does that?]

But Elizabeth manages to convince Alice she’s well by the next afternoon. She even wears two sweatshirts (at least) to make sure they’re wearing the same colour; she starts in a blue one, but then pulls it off to reveal a red one just like Jessica is wearing.

Right until Jessica pulls off her sweatshirt to reveal a purple t-shirt which she was wearing when rehearsal started. She didn’t put on the sweatshirt until she got cold. Under all those lights? That had you sweating yesterday? Okay then.

Of course, Jessica/Elizabeth keep missing the same cue because somehow they fight at the same part each time. Elizabeth tears Jessica’s shirt and throws all the sweatshirts up into the cords, wires, and pulleys overhead, because that’s not going to fuck with the scenery and curtains or anything. [Dove: … fire risk?]

Jessica storms off to find a shirt in her gym locker, and Lila runs into her there. She sure has figured things out and offers to help make sure Jessica is onstage Friday night so long as Jessica calls off the bet so she doesn’t have to wear the warts. After all, there is only one costume and what if Elizabeth gets to it first, but Lila’s costumer sent two things because they customarily send two so the understudy can have the same costume just in case they have to go on at any moment.

Well, cancel the bet and have a temporary but serious stomachache around Act Two so Lila can go on for a few minutes and let everyone see her in her costume.

It is, of course, a deal.

Elizabeth and Todd share a moment after their scene ends, but then Todd tells Jessica that they shouldn’t get carried away. She pretty much forgot that she was supposed to be her sister and is having all these romantic feelings for her own boyfriend. Well okay then.

Amy briefly talks to Jessica about her article and as Elizabeth fucks that up, she realises that Elizabeth is, you know, Elizabeth. I do kind of love that they can’t fool their actual BFFs for long, though they managed it longer than I think they should have.

At dinner Thursday night, Jessica lets the family (you know, Elizabeth) know that Juliet will be wearing Lila’s costume and there are two of them and they’ll never be left alone for even one minute. As if someone might steal them, Alice jokes, and Elizabeth and Jessica both fake laugh.

Amy and Elizabeth try to figure out a way to get to the costumes. Amy even suggests sneaking into Lila’s house, which, you know, way to be a team player and also interesting, but they have an alarm system and a couple of big dogs in the yard. [Dove: Lila has dogs? Really? No. Never mentioned before, never again. Hard nope on the dogs.] [Raven: If Lila had a dog, it’d fit in her handbag.]

Elizabeth sneezes and not for the first time that evening, so Alice forces her to take some more cold medicine. It knocks her out, both she and Jessica have complained about that, and I’m seeing a theme in how Alice parents. Drug them to sleep and have your own fun. Get it, woman. [Dove: The Xanny the Nanny school of parenting.]

Elizabeth is still sneezing the next morning and she refuses to take any medicine because it will make her too sleepy at school, but she is allowed to go to school. Jessica looks a little worried at how determined she is, and Elizabeth is glad because this is war.

So serious, girls. So. Serious.

I love it.

Everyone is all excited about the performance, but Jessica keeps feeling worried about why Elizabeth, Amy, and Maria keep whispering to each other.

Elizabeth leaves before Jessica does, off to “help with the scenery” which worries Jessica even more. Alice sends the cold medicine back with Jessica to give to Elizabeth, and Jessica starts coming up with a plan. Oh good lord.

The stage is chaotic with everyone getting ready, and it reminds me of my own theater days. I’m charmed despite myself. I love a good opening night chaos scene, and I miss working backstage.

Jessica and Lila turn up and head to the dressing room with the dresses. I’m shocked they aren’t already wearing them. Maria and Amy run the set into the costume rack, knocking the dresses onto Lila and giving Maria time to shove Jessica into a deep bucket on the balcony set.

Well goddamn.

Amy and Maria whisk the scenery and Jessica away, and Elizabeth helps Lila stand up, doing her best to act like Jessica.

Elizabeth is awed by the costume and by outsmarting Jessica, but then Todd turns up to talk to her, or Jessica, privately. He tells her that he has a cold coming on and when they kiss she should probably just kiss his cheek instead of his lips so she won’t get sick. She flirts with him because she’s trying to be Jessica and Jessica wouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about kissing, and he’s completely flustered by it.

Mandy tells Elizabeth good luck, and you’d think by now they’d know not to say that, but whatever.

Jessica escapes her trap and rushes into the dressing room looking for her costume. She figures out real quick that Elizabeth has it and Lila thought she was Jessica. She demands Lila’s costume and manages to get it because of that whole bet thing. Jessica has a plan, too, to get Lila to help drug Elizabeth. She wants Lila to put cold medicine in a soda and have Mandy give it to Jessica, so that Juliet becomes Sleeping Beauty.

Does — does cold medicine actually work that fast? Because not in my experience. [Dove: If anything could knock someone out that fast, I’m pretty sure that you or I would know about it given our years of experience with insomnia.]

Lila gives the soda to Mandy who gives it to Amy who isn’t sure whether it should go to Jessica or Elizabeth so, when she hears Todd coughing, gives it to him instead. Of course she does. This is a delightful comedy of errors.

AMY knows to say break a leg instead of good luck, to my surprise.

Jessica enters from stage left instead of stage right, where she’s supposed to enter from and where Elizabeth is waiting. This sends Elizabeth into a rage and she is determined to never give Jessica the chance to beat her onto the stage again.

When it comes to a scene with Todd, Jessica’s waiting to go on stage and Todd keeps yawning and stumbling over his words. Jessica lunges on stage and yells her line so Elizabeth can’t beat her. She’s so loud Todd falls over and makes the audience laugh. Jessica ignores them, and Todd yawning in her face, and acts her heart out.

Jessica’s ready to go to the balcony for one of the “most beautiful, romantic scenes of all time” right up until Elizabeth shows up on the balcony instead. She starts to say the big line when someone grabs her hair and yanks her off stage. I. AM. DYING.

Juliet pops up again, starts the next line, disappears again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The girls fight, Todd is exhausted, and Jessica and Elizabeth nearly knock over the balcony.

Jessica makes it into the orchard scene, Todd is yawning, and as Jessica exits, Elizabeth flings herself onstage for the kiss scene, and she and Todd collide face first. The audience cracks up, but Elizabeth delivers her last lines as passionately and dramatically as she can.

The audience applauds loudly, but when Elizabeth leaves the stage, she runs straight into Mr Bowman, furious at what’s going on. She remembers Jessica saying there are no such things as friends when it comes to theater and really plays it up that Elizabeth is ruining everything.

He grabs Jessica and sends her off to the dressing room or he’ll give her an F for the entire semester.

…that really shouldn’t stop Jessica, because it’s not like she’ll get the F.

Elizabeth is in the burial scene, Todd starts to give his lines and then basically falls over asleep. Like, literally. LITERALLY.

Amy rushes into the dressing room to get whichever twin is in there to help save the day. Amy says that whichever one they are, they know the play backward and forward and they need to go on for Todd. (He has an understudy, but that understudy is already out with the flu.)

Jessica refuses, Amy calls her Jessica then but a few moments later, says that if she’s Elizabeth, she’ll do it because it’s the nice thing to do and what’s best for the play and she always comes through for Jessica, and if she’s Jessica, she’ll do it because she’s “genetically incapable of passing up a chance to star in a leading role.”

Well goddamn, Amy, snark and truth all at the same time. Keep this up and you’d be a much more interesting character. [Dove: Insightful Amy for the win!]

Amy has the lights shut off for three seconds and then when they come back up, Romeo stands and gives his speech. And Romeo is good. He sounds anguished and heartbroken and fully in love with his wife, and somewhere (maybe in the audience) Steven hopes Jessica takes this as a lesson in sibling love.

The twins do an amazing job, so well that they get a standing ovation, give people chills, and make Mr Bowman cry. Oh good lord.

They don’t get away with everything, though; Mr Bowman says even though they did a great job at the end, they ruined earlier parts, so they can either take an F for the week or wear the face warts all Monday. And they look disgusting, per Amy. I laugh.

Alice and Ned gave them a long lecture, too — or at least they gave Elizabeth one, because she’s supposed to be more mature than most kids her age and they expect better behaviour from her, blah blah blah, this is bullshit, both girls should get into the same amount of trouble, but clearly this is leading in to the next book, because Elizabeth sadly admits that she feels like they expect too much and she can’t measure up to it.

Which would make me super sympathetic except she’s Elizabeth fucking Wakefield and gets very little sympathy from me.

Final Thoughts

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I fucking enjoyed the hell out of this book even with the bullshit timeline. It’s fun and funny, the twin shenanigans are pretty great, I love different friend groups pairing up, and Amy getting to be both smart and snarky there at the end was a delight.

[Dove: Same. I’ve outlined how I don’t have any fondness for Shakespeare, but I can enjoy a good comedy of errors – epecially when both twins are murderously furious. This was just ridiculous fun. And damn, for a tween book, it got pretty brutal.]

[Raven: This book was great. Like, Top-3-book-of-the-series great. I guessed early on the the twins would end up playing both Romeo and Juliet, and declared to Dove I’d flip a table. However, it was done with so much fun and energy that I was thoroughly charmed. Elizabeth was AMAZING, Jessica was prime Jess, and the supporting cast were all good value. Wonderful stuff!]

I am the evil twin. I'm in a feud with R.L. Stine, but he hasn't found me here yet. Every story needs more werewolves.

1 thought on “Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and Two Juliets

  1. I do enjoy Shakespeare, because I was introduced to it well. In 6th grade, we split into groups and each did a play of our choice. We read the whole play, and then performed a scene. Pretty sure they were all comedies, not sure if that was intentional.

    In high school, it seems like every school does the same quartet: R&J, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear.

    “They’ll even have costumes because the Sweet Valley High drama coach donated costumes from their last performance of it. Because these tweens fit in high school clothes so well.”
    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has a scene where a man buys the main character a sexy outfit for a date. She wears something else and he comments. She replies that she donated it to the middle school because, “only a 12 y/o girl could fit in it.”

    “Raven: Me too, but I have a hard time believing a bunch of eleven-year-olds can decipher Shakespeare without a little guidance from a teacher on first pass.”
    Most of the time I read Shakespeare in school we had the books that had the original version on the left, and the modern version on the right. Other versions would be annotated with notes on the left and original text on the right.

    “Jessica eats chicken soup and watches Days of Turmoil, then daydreams about Flame giving her advice on how to hide her illness with make-up.”
    Wasn’t Flame the role that Bambi got?

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