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Michael Fentiman discusses ambiguity in Shakespeare’s text. Does Tybalt intend to kill Mercutio? Jonjo O’Neill explores ways of delivering Mercutio’s dying scene; playing bravado and then showing fear.

MERCUTIO Jonjo O'Neill

House of Montague
ROMEO Sam Troughton
BENVOLIO Oliver Ryan
BALTHAZAR Gruffudd Glyn
ABRAHAM Peter Peverley

House of Capulet
TYBALT Joseph Arkley
SAMPSON Ben Ingles
GREGORY Dharmesh Patel


Classroom Ideas

This clip demonstrates how Shakespeare's ambiguity allows each theatre company to make their own choices about the staging of the scene. The clip offers different interpretations of the scene which will encourage discussion. Explain to students that there is nothing in the text that tells us whether Tybalt means to kill Mercutio, or whether Mercutio's death is an accident. As they watch the workshop, ask students to observe how the actors stage the fight. How is the fatal wounding of Mercutio staged? What do the actors say about the staging of Mercutio's death? In small groups ask students to jot down their observations about the three different ways the actor played Mercutio's death: showing bravado; playing the fear; and doing both. What did each interpretation highlight? Which interpretation did they think was most effective? Why? How does the way in which Mercutio's death is played affect the character of Romeo?

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