"I've heard that the latest play is dreadfully violent." Aziraphale said with a disapproving frown.
"And I've heard that it's incredibly popular and that people are raving about it." Crowley replied.
Aziraphale stepped around a large puddle in the street and wished, again, that they'd hired a carriage. Not that the mud was getting on his shoes or clothes; angels didn't have to worry about that sort of thing unless they wanted to. Sometimes it was good to come down and really get into the human experience so that one could better grasp the motivations and pressures on these poor creatures. It was important to understand their-
"Angel, you're drifting off on me again. Quit contemplating the eternal suffering and pay attention. I want you to come and see this play with me."
Aziraphale pursed his lips. "I don't know if ultra-violence is really to my taste. I quite enjoyed Two Gentlemen of Verona. I wish he would write more like that. I really thought that I was making good progress. He's been working on this adorable love story. Two young lovers against adversity. They're going to escape and elope and their families will come out of it all for the better. But anyway, 'Two Gentlemen' is lovely. A touching little story with some obstacles to overcome. It's all very instructive. Overarching themes of love and friendship. I like that kind of play. I think it really conveys more of the kind of message that he's trying to get people to understand. I wholly approve!"
"Oh come on, there was an attempted rape scene in it! And Valentine has to become the king of those banished gentlemen or else they plan to kill him. That play has violence too. You can't have a good story without some violence or it'd be just as boring as your ineffable heaven." Crowley pointed out. He didn't bother to avoid the puddles as Aziraphale had. The mud just didn't stick. Demons didn't have to worry about mud either. Unless they wanted to, or were commanded to. Crowley liked to think himself above the level of the kind of demon who was commanded to be covered in mud. His taste in clothing was far too expensive.
"That isn't the same thing. I've heard that there is much worse in this play. Doesn't everyone die?" Aziraphale asked, dodging another puddle.
"Everyone can't die. There would be no one to bring the story on at the end." Crowley said dismissively. "Besides, I've got another reason that we should go and see it. I don't think Will actually wrote it himself. Don't you want to go and see if sinful plagiarism is being committed?"
"Who do you think wrote it then?" Aziraphale picked his way carefully around a dangerously steaming pile. He steered Crowley into a small tavern that Aziraphale loved to frequent because they kept it somewhat clean (or what passed for clean in this age) and the food and wine was good enough.
"Well since he's taken to letting my Kit Marlowe do him six ways to Sunday I think that either Kit is writing some of his stuff, or at least that Kit's influencing him. I have very high hopes for this kid. And I have to say..." Crowley smirked over his sunglasses (he couldn't wait for the ages to advance far enough to do a better pair than these poor wiry things). "What a nice pairing that is." Crowley waggled his eyebrows. "Creative genius out of lots of creative sex. I feel proud to have been a part of inspiring that."
Aziraphale blushed scarlet. "You're kidding! They're only friends, surely." Aziraphale turned even darker red as his mind supplied images of the young innocent Will Shakespeare entwined with the... more seasoned but very flexible Kit Marlowe. "My heavens."
"When you get right down to it, hell, I wouldn't mind being a part of that." Crowley winked suggestively and Aziraphale gave him a most reproving and affronted look.
Crowley chuckled. "They're perfect for each other. You know it. Will has been writing tons more since I hooked him up with Kit Marlowe. Religious morals be damned. We all know how moral these 'morals' really are." He materialized a bottle of wine at the table and poured two glasses. "Besides, we're getting away from the point. Which is that you have to come and see this play with me. I have tickets for tomorrow night and you're going to come with me. You're going to have to see this play some time or other. After all, what if it really is evil and incites tremendous violence. You'll need to know how to thwart it, won't you?"
"You hooked him up? I do beg your pardon, Crowley, but I think that Will has the good sense not to get too involved with someone that you're having... intimate dealings with." Aziraphale brushed imaginary dust from his sleeve and reminded himself that envy was a deadly sin. "All right. I can see that you won't let this go. I will go and see Will's latest play with you. I'm sure that the redeeming messages within the violent content will show through. Will is really more noble than you're making him out to be, regardless of who he might be bringing to bed."
"Excellent. I'll meet you tomorrow night at seven thirty sharp. What's he calling this latest play?"
"Titus Andronicus. Set in Rome."
"Well, Angel, what did you think?" Crowley asked as he leaned forward in his seat.
Aziraphale was ashen faced and he gripped the railing in front of his seat for some time. It was things like this that sometimes made him wonder whether humans were capable of worse things than demons. He shook his head. "Well the blood effects were over the top of course. The groundlings must be soaked in it." He leaned back.
Crowley grinned. "Deliciously wicked, don't you think. I like the effect Kit is having on him. I think my work here has been well worth it."
Aziraphale took a few moments to collect his thoughts. "Well, I certainly agree that Christopher Marlowe is having some influence, this play reeked of his works. Although Marlowe does write some worthy pieces, I think Will would be better served if he didn't let this influence run too wildly." Aziraphale looked pointedly at Crowley at this point. "The Arrangement shouldn't be broken apart over something like this and you're coming perilously close to interfering with my little Will."
"I wouldn't dream of interfering in your ministrations, dear Angel. I merely suggested that Kit should have some companionship." Crowley peeled back the rind of the orange that he had saved for the end. "I think the story worked quite well and the violence was integral. Don't you think?"
"Well... yes. But it was over the top. Well, that was the point after all. Violence begets more violence and no good can come of it. This play was a condemnation of pride, lust, and revenge. It conveys all the correct messages that it should. Will has stayed true to his purpose here. I'm very proud of him. And this time the goodness isn't held down by crude humor to occupy the lesser minds. Will has a most unfortunate penchant for bawdy humor; I suppose one has to make some allowances for the underdeveloped comedic tastes of the lower classes of the public, though." Aziraphale reflected. "Poor dear Lavinia, she was a lovely innocent child. That was just too much."
"There's no way lofty messages are going to make it all the way through the gore. Human minds are too simple to sift through that kind of thing. Especially these humans. They all came here tonight to see the bloodiest play he's written yet." Crowley said as he tossed the rind into the groundling area. "Orange section?" He offered one to Aziraphale.
"Thank you, dear." Aziraphale took one. "I suppose there can be more than one way to interpret this play. We'll have to let time be the judge on this one. I'm looking forward to this adorable romance he's got in the works. It should be so uplifting and heart warming." Aziraphale practically glowed as he thought of the story.
"What is he going to call this heart warming tale of young love, then?" Crowley said shaking his head with amusement.
Aziraphale smiled. "Romeo and Juliet."