Growing up, I hated the young lovers in every story.
It’s not something I grew out of until my mid-twenties. Romance was not much of a factor of my young life, at least nothing requited. As such, I found that productions of Romeo and Juliet always became significantly less interesting after the death of my two favourite characters, Mercutio and Tybalt.
For many years I wanted to write them their own piece, but what that piece would be was largely unknown to me until fairly recently.
I wanted to know how their story might continue and what would they think of their behaviour if they could see it in hindsight.
Would they be angry at Romeo and Juliet’s (spoiler alert) death, or would they celebrate it like my younger self?
Tybalt and Mercutio are the play’s most charismatic characters, the two biggest dogs in the yard. Inevitably Shakespeare has them fight.
I wanted to see what would it take to get them to let go of the toxic hatred that only seems to lead to violence. Mercutio and the Prince of Cats is an exploration of that.
How much work does it take?
What means are justified?
And who are the right people to get them there?
What I’ve found is that for any meaningful healing to happen for them, they both needed to be taken down a peg or two. This instantly drove the story to my favourite genre; weird, black comedy.
My favourite type of theatre is off beat, however it comes. No messages please, unless they’re in a bottle and there’s a half-eaten map to decipher first. Leaving a theatre with something to think deeply about is a wonderful experience and one I would like to create for people, if I can.
Bringing my first full length play to the stage is a daunting proposition, but the process of writing, knowing that it will be witnessed, has been an invaluable experience.
I’ve learned so much about my own personal taste and what I like to see on stage. I’ve been joined along the way by an incredible team including my own significant other Bishanyia Vincent in her directing debut. Along with a cracking cast and brilliant creative team, we’re looking to bring something a little different to the Sydney stage.
There is undoubtedly something in the air at the moment in regards to Romeo and Juliet.
We are one of four adaptations or spin offs of the play to be performed, in Sydney, in the second half of 2019. There are also a couple of productions of the show itself still to come this summer. I had no idea this was the case when I originally pitched to Kerri Glasscock at The Old 505, but I’m excited to see the play analysed from so many different points of view.
It seems each production has come at the play from a different point of view. Perhaps as a society we are all analysing the nature of love and love stories?
Romeo and Juliet has for centuries been the gold standard for what great love should be. It may be that it’s hallowed place in the romance hall of fame is finally up for evaluation.
Mercutio and the Prince of Cats plays at the Old 505 Theatre, Newtown, November 19-30