‘Allen’s Key’ Episode 1 — an original series that sees famous characters enduring a visit to IKEA.

Two Hemnes, both alike in quality,

In fair IKEA, where we lay our scene,

From ancient design to new Allen Key,

Where retail blood makes yellow shirts unclean.

’Twas a glorious day when Romeo and his beloved Juliet found one another — as glorious as the price tag of a Lack coffee table to a cash-strapped peasant. Now all the couple lacked was time — time to embrace their love, free from the tyranny of their oppressive families’ ancient feud.

The marriage had been swift, but perfect — the way a Billy bookcase suddenly catches the eye and entices the viewer with its simple beauty. Yet the lovers had to move quicker still, to avoid the fallout of their union. They could waste no time in preparing for their life together, lest everything be lost. Like a Kallax shelving unit clumsily spilt, any complacency and the romance would surely crumble.

But before they could begin to honour the faithful words they had uttered before Friar Ingvar, they needed to acquire items to create a home. Their days spent attending balls and writing poetry had left them desperately short on funds, and thus the couple chose the Veronian IKEA to undertake the first potential pitfall of their marriage: interior decorating. Romeo’s best friend, Mercutio, accompanied them on their arduous journey.

Fluorescent lights engulfed them as they entered the hallowed halls of the retail furniture behemoth. Staggering through the maze of products, Romeo routinely paused to glance upon his bride’s beauty as she tested the comfort of a Karlstad couch, or the storage potential of a Stenstorp kitchen island. He admired how she looked just as beautiful as the day he met her — yesterday.

Waves of elaborate items enticed their eyes, while announcements about meatballs and cinnamon buns buzzed around their ears.

“These proclamations of sustenance are most enticing, dear Romeo,” Mercutio announced.

“I think that’s the point, Mercutio,” Juliet intervened, before muttering something further under her breath.

“’Tis no matter. We’re here to acquire provisions for your life together, and we shan’t be swayed by cheap distractions. You have my word, oh noble Juliet.”

Juliet simply rolled her eyes.

“Although,” Romeo intervened, “I hear their hot dogs are the cheapest in all the land.”

“But I’m a vegetarian!” Juliet protested.

“You are? I knew nothing of this.” Romeo announced.

“Well, it’s not like you took me to dinner before just showing up at my balcony, now is it?”

An awkward silence fell over the trio, one that remained until they were approached in the bedrooms department by a greeter adorned in a canary-yellow garment that burned their retinas.

“Greetings and salutations, friends! Welcome to IKEA. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Halt!” Mercutio interjected. “Thou must announce his name and intentions with this dear couple.”

The worker retreated anxiously.

“My name’s William,” he indicated, nervousness painted on his voice. “I’m simply wondering if I may be of assistance.”

“Proceed!” Mercutio decreed, still studying the salesman.

“Sorry about him,” Romeo said. “He’s Mercutio, my rather protective friend. I am Romeo, of the Montagues, and this is my new bride Juliet, of the Capulets.”

“Actually,” Juliet interjected, “you can call me ‘Jules’.”

Romeo looked at his bride quizzically.

“’Jules’?” he inquired.

“Yes, ‘Jules.’ It’s what I prefer to be called.”

“Seems like there’s a lot of pertinent information I could have been told yesterday.”

“Well, it’s been hard to get a word in — you’ve done a lot of talking in the past twenty-four-hours!”

“Jules it is then,” Romeo replied meekly.

William interrupted the scene’s escalating air of tension.

“What’s our lovely couple looking for today?”

“Well, we have a tenuous amount of time to start our life together,” Romeo said. “You know, feuding families and the like. We’ve rented a place just outside Verona and we need to furnish it from top to bottom.”

Before William had a chance to start his sales pitch, Juliet had intervened with cries of pleasure.

“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?”

“I’m right here.” Romeo replied. “Where I’ve been the whole time.”

“Look at this darling bedside table. Isn’t it just to die for?”

“Oh, it is!” Romeo replied enthusiastically.

“What’s this one called?” Juliet asked of William.

“This is a Hemnes,” William replied. “A beautiful piece — also available in Blood-Red.”

“Now that would be something,” Romeo indicated.

“Hasn’t enough blood been shed from our families, Romeo?”

“Oh, it’s just the name,” William clarified.

“What do you think, dear Mercutio?” Juliet asked, trying to influence her preference.

Mercutio, crouching at the Hemnes and caressing its surface, put forward his opinion: “This drawer handle doth feel like the hilt of a sword — like the one I use to slay thine enemies of my dearest friend Romeo.”

“We’re well aware of your devotion, Mercutio — and your disturbing affection for weaponry — “ Romeo said, “but which colour do you prefer? Blood-Red or Potion-Blue?”

“The colour thou chooseth should reflect the honour of the chooser!”

“Okay, I think Mercutio’s opinion is fairly redundant. Well, Jules — if that is your real name — your Hemnes or my Hemnes?”

“Maybe you could ask Rosaline?” Juliet said, disdain dripping from her lips.

“Why bring her into this?” Romeo protested. “She’s in my past. I married you in a day — not her! Might we ask Paris?”

Mercutio, standing with vigour, suddenly silenced the scene. He turned abruptly to face his friends.

“Why the devil came IKEA between us?” he decreed. “I am hurt!”

Romeo and Juliet, ignoring Mercutio’s theatrics, continued to squabble. But like a crack thrust into a Stave mirror, Mercutio broke the sounds of a couple on the brink of annihilation — his declaration deafened everyone around him.

“A plague o’ both your Hemnes!”

As Mercutio stormed off in a fit of rage, Juliet turned to her once-beloved Romeo.

“I think we should see other people,” she denounced. “Stay away from my balcony.”

Romeo and William stood silently; equally aghast at what had transpired. A love that had blossomed so beautifully was discarded as flippantly as a one-month-old Micke desk. William leaned into Romeo and offered comfort:

“Personally, I think you dodged a bullet.”

After availing himself of a hot dog, Romeo promptly left IKEA and vowed never to return.

For never was a story of more woe

Than this visit to IKEA for Juliet and Romeo.