Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene…except, this is a tale of two different lovers, and another kind of forbidden love. Rachel Garnet’s play explores the love story of Mercutio and Tybalt in this joyous retelling of Romeo & Juliet at the beautiful Wilton’s Music Hall.
Kickstarting with Shakespeare’s prose, Garnet’s writing flows seamlessly amongst it, delving into her version of the story. We start to see more of Mercutio, played by the captivating Conner Delves. From the off, there’s a real sense of playfulness about Delves’ portrayal; his Mercutio is fun, camp, cheeky, and quick-witted all at once. In a drunken stupor at the Capulet masked ball, he bumps into Tybalt (Tommy Sim’aan), looking for a fight. Sim’aan’s Tybalt is stoic and steadfast, yet as the story progresses, there’s a glint of childlike wonderment in his eyes as his curiosity of Mercutio grows. We are under the impression that Mercutio has been at peace with his sexuality for quite some time, but Tybalt is only just realising his feelings – his idea of a traditional life with a wife and children falling before his eyes. Delves and Sim’aan are lovable and engaging, creating a truly memorable love story.
Lest we forget though, perhaps the true hero of this play – Gethin Alderman. Multi-rolling as Romeo, Lord Capulet, Paris, Friar Laurence, and a beggar, Alderman is ingenious in the way he adapts his voice and stance – even when moving the set around he remains in character, sending ripples of laughter across the theatre. He truly ties the whole production together, from playing the grating Paris, to a love-sick Juliet asking Tybalt if he would judge her if she ran away, in a touching moment where Tybalt understands more than she could ever realise.
There are countless interpretations and spin-offs of Shakespeare’s arguably most popular production, but Garnet’s play is a pleasure to behold – although a heart-wrenching ending is still unavoidable, this story feels surprisingly new and refreshing.