Act 3 Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is an important turning point in the play. This scene acts as a catalyst for all of the events that have already happened so far. It sparks off many more events, all of which build up to tragedy. After this scene nothing more is happy, this is predicted earlier on in the play. From early on doom is prophesised by more than one character.
“These violent delights have violent ends,”
As friar Lawrence says in Act 2 Scene 6, even though he has no idea that anything will lead to death. He is very uneasy about the whole marriage. There is so much tension that has built up over the past scenes, as the Prince has appointed death as the punishment for the two family’s next public brawl.
As the scene opens I want Mercutio to stride in confidently and joking about with the other men, I only want there to be three or four other men with Mercutio and Benvolio. I also want for Mercutio to push the other men about a little, almost as if they are playing ‘tag’. This is because it fits Mercutio’s character, which we have seen much of in the past scenes, also as Mercutio has no worries to do with the Capulets because he is not a Mountague. However, Benvolio should lag behind and appear unwilling to be there, he should look all around him and then hurry up to Mercutio.
When Benvolio says his first lines I want him to half mutter and half plead with Mercutio as he is worried about an incident with the Capels.
“…if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl,
For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.”
In these first few lines we notice that the atmosphere is in complete contrast to the last scene of tranquility, happiness and peacefulness.
I want Mercutio’s first lines to be said completely seriously and he must look serious, like he means every word that he is saying. When he is finished though I want him to smile and clap Benvolio on the shoulder to show everyone that he is only joking about and teasing.
During all of Mercutio’s first taunts I think that Benvolio should be following the from market stall to market stall, whilst looking all around him furtively. The other men with Mercutio and Benvolio should follow Mercutio and laugh loudly at his jests. When he says
“Am I like such a fellow?”
I think that Benvolio should be distracted and trying to lead the others away as he knows what will ensue if they meet with the Capulets.
As Mercutio goes on to tease Benvolio about being what he is not and what he does not do, I think he should walk around as if he owns the place, strutting. Through this Mercutio should face the audience for most of it and grin at them, this is so that the crowd gets drawn in. To bring back any of them who got bored or lost in the wedding scene before, it also sets the audience up for the fight that will happen.
I want for Tybalt to enter first with about four men behind him, no more than five. They should stand in a row slightly behind him. Tybalt is looking very confident and is at the opposite end of the stage to Mercutio and Benvolio. Tybalt should look as if he is searching for someone and his expression should be solemn.
Meanwhile at the other end of the stage Mercutio has sat down outside a pub or place with tables and chairs. Benvolio should look as if he is beginning to stop worrying and is starting to joke about with Mercutio and the others. Then Benvolio is just about to sit down when out of the corner of his eye he spots Tybalt. His whole head immediately swivels round in the direction of Tybalt when he says
“By my head, here comes the Capulets.”
By this time Tybalt too has spotted his rivals and is moving closer to them. Mercutio, as ever the comedian who hasn’t a care in the world, raises his heels one by one onto the table when he says his line
“By my heel, I care not.”
I got this idea from Baz Luhrmann’s modern film version of Romeo and Juliet.
I want Tybalt to have his hand on the hilt of his sword as his swordsmanship is like his vice. As he walks closer to Mercutio I want him to turn his head sideways and tell his men to
“Follow me close, for I will speak to them.-…”
The hyphen indicates a pause; this is as Tybalt goes to speak to Mercutio and Benvolio. He comes to a stand still about two metres away from the seated Mountagues and Mercutio.
When Mercutio talks to Tybalt I want him to talk with disdain towards Tybalt to accentuate that Mercutio stops talking in blank verse and uses prose. The audience will notice the difference as the more important characters use blank verse when talking to one another. However, the ‘lower’ characters use prose, which seems cruder and less eloquent. Shakespeare often used prose for vulgarity and comedy in the mouths of the ‘lower’ characters. As Mercutio is not using blank verse it shows his disrespect for Tybalt.
When Mercutio and Tybalt are speaking Mercutio is teasing Tybalt by using his words carefully. Tybalt doesn’t have this skill with his words and allows Mercutio to take his words and twist them to give them a new or different meaning.
Tybalt doesn’t see what is so funny about what he has said or he doesn’t see the other meaning, such as
“Mercutio, thou consort’st with Romeo-”
Mercutio immediately takes the other meaning of the word ‘consort’, to combine with musically. He thinks that Tybalt is calling him and Romeo minstrels. When Mercutio is saying these lines
“…What, dost thou make us minstrels? An thou make minstrels of us… Here’s my fiddlestick; here’s that shall make you dance…”
I want Mercutio to look offended and angry and to sound angry at Tybalt, but also to have a slight teasing undertone to his voice. When he says
“Here’s my fiddlestick…”
I want Mercutio to stand up, pull his sword out and begin to dance comically. While he is dancing I want him to be pointing his sword at Tybalt’s feet.
Benvolio as we have seen before in the play acts as the ‘peace maker’ and tries to stop Tybalt and Mercutio from starting a fight.
“We talk here in the public haunt of men.
Either withdraw unto someplace,
Or reason coldly of your grievances,”
I want Benvolio, who has been standing behind Mercutio to move in front of him and between him and Tybalt. I want him to hold his hands up to both Tybalt and Mercutio to try and placate them. He is deadly serious as he knows that if they fight things will go wrong, he says so in his lines as he knows what Prince Escalus will do if they fight.
Romeo should enter from the side of the stage where Tybalt entered; I want him to seem to be wandering aimlessly as if lost in thoughts of Juliet and their marriage. He doesn’t spot Mercutio until slightly later.
I want for Tybalt to be the first one to see Romeo and as Tybalt sees Romeo I want him to turn sideways so that he is facing Romeo.
After Tybalt says his lines I want for Mercutio to point his sword as Tybalt’s chest as he is insulted that Tybalt called Romeo his “man” which has one meaning of a servant. He should almost hiss the words when he says his lines to Tybalt.
Romeo still has not spotted Mercutio and Benvolio even though he is only a few metres away from them; this is when I want Tybalt to say his next lines. I want him to shout them as the market place will be busy and Romeo is a little bit away and I want him to emphasise “…thou art a villain”. Tybalt should then spit on the floor to show his dislike for Romeo.
Romeo should have been looking very happy whilst walking through the market, when he hears Tybalt’s words I want him to stop in his track and look dazed as he doesn’t know what he has done to offend Tybalt. The audience however, know exactly why Tybalt is annoyed with Romeo; he is annoyed because Romeo went to the Capulets party. When Romeo realises where Tybalt is he moves slowly across to face Tybalt. This would have given him time to gather his thoughts so that he could answer Tybalt.
“…the reason that I have to love thee
Doth much excuse the appertaining rage
To such a greeting. Villain am I none.”
To this answer I think that Tybalt should look slightly confused but gathers himself quickly enough, Mercutio should look baffled at first and then slightly angry. Benvolio should be moving slightly from foot to foot to show his apprehension at such a meeting. None of them know why Romeo has said that there is a reason why he must love Tybalt as no one knows of his marriage to Juliet.
As Romeo completes his lines I want for him to turn around and start to walk back in the direction that he came from as he says “I see thou knowst me not.”. However, as Tybalt is having none of this and as his purpose was to fight Romeo, I want him to draw his sword, point it at Romeo and speak in a slow, calm voice mixed with vehemence.
“Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries
That thou hast done me; therefore turn and draw.”
Romeo once again turns around; he too should speak in a slow calm voice but with a slight pleading tone.
” …good Capulet, which name I tender
As dearly as mine own, be satisfied.”
As Romeo says these lines I want him to hold one hand to his heart when he talks about the Capulets name, then as he says to Tybalt “be satisfied” I want him to hold both hands palm facing upwards and slightly out from him body as an expression of peace.
As soon as Romeo finishes his lines I want Mercutio to spit on the floor and look outraged at Romeo as he thinks that Romeo is being a coward and he says as much. This should be said with complete distaste.
“O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!
…Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?”
During Romeos talk with Tybalt, Mercutio had put his sword away now once again he draws it. As he says his next lines I want Mercutio to say them with sarcasm as he is mocking Tybalt. I then want him once he has finished to lean forward slightly with his sword pointing out at Tybalt and for Mercutio to be in the beginning stance for a duel.
Tybalt accept the challenge but before he answers “I am for you” I want him to draw his sword out and bow from the waist as proper swordsmen should. Then Romeo should move over to Mercutio and place one hand on his shoulder as he says
“Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up.”
However, Mercutio merely shrugs his hand off of his shoulder, says his line and begins to fence with Tybalt. I want for them to only make weak attempts at hitting each other though, so that it looks as if they are only practicing with each other. I want them to move all over the market place with Romeo, Benvolio and the men follow them in a rough sort of circle.
When they begin to fight Romeo should deliver his lines in a broken manner, so he says parts of them, stops to wait and watch the fight. Also during the fight I want him to attempt to break the fight up a couple of times. He should try to break up the fight when he says
“Tybalt, Mercutio, the Prince expressly hath
Forbid this bandying in Verona streets.”
I want him to move over to Mercutio and try to pull his arms away from him, but he doesn’t have a good enough grip on Mercutio so Mercutio pulls free and continues to duel with Tybalt. Then after one or two minutes more of fighting I want Romeo to step in front of Mercutio, facing Tybalt. He should try to hold Mercutio back from lunging at Tybalt. He should do this when he says
“Hold, Tybalt! Good Mercutio!”
Shakespeare gives us the stage instructions that
“Tybalt under Romeo’s arm wounds Mercutio and hurries away.”
This tells me that Tybalt needs to wound Mercutio from underneath Romeo’s arm. I want Tybalt to aim for under Romeo’s arm which is not facing the audience, this will make it easier if any mistakes happen and so that the audience can’t see exactly what happened. Tybalt should take his sword out and move back a few paces away from all of the others, I want for him to stare at his sword and notice some blood on the tip, then to look back at the crowd then at his sword again. He should then stumble off the stage.
Mercutio after he has been wounded should stagger a little, put his hand to his side and hold it out in front of his face so he can look at it, but he should be facing away from the others, preferably towards the audience. I want him to almost whisper
“I am hurt.
A plague o’ both your houses! I am sped.”
Romeo, Benvolio and the others should laugh because they think Mercutio is playing about as per usual. When Mercutio answers Benvolio question of whether or not he’s hurt I want him to laugh first before saying the lines, but when he gets to
“Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.”
I want him to stagger across to one of the Mountague men and put his hand on his shoulder, then roughly push him towards the side of the stage. The servant should go off stage in the opposite direction of where Tybalt went.
Romeo should look slightly alarmed now as he realises that Mercutio is indeed hurt, but he still does not realise how bad the harm is. I want him to move over to where Mercutio is kneeling on the floor and put an arm around his shoulders when he says
“Courage man; the hurt cannot be much.”
I want Mercutio to stand up and move away from Romeo as soon as Romeo touches him; I want him to move far enough away so that Romeo cannot touch him. Even though he is on his death bed Mercutio still manages to make silly and funny comments. I want him to deliver the lines with laughter in his voice until he reaches
“A plague o’ both
your houses! Zounds! …”
Here he should look and sound angry, he should look at all of the Mountagues around him, and they in turn should look back at him, shocked at what has happened.
“Why the devil
came you between us? I was hurt under your arm.”
At this I want Mercutio to look directly at Romeo; his voice should now quieten down and sound pleading.
Mercutio should then move across to Benvolio, who helps support him under his arm, when Mercutio asks for his help to take him into a house. When Mercutio says his next lines I want them to be quite quiet until the last “Your houses!” I want him to scream out these words just before he leaves the stage with Benvolio, they leave the side that the servant did.
Romeo should stare after Benvolio and Mercutio. Then I want him to turn around and for his body to slump, he is now facing the audience with the men trying to move away slowly. In the most forlorn of voices I want him to say the first half of his lines, but when he gets to the part about Juliet I want him to stand up straighter and sound a bit angry.
“…O sweet Juliet,
Thy beauty hath made me effeminate,
And in my temper softened valour’s steel!”
I want him to sound angry as he is accusing Juliet for making him weak and for love making him less manly.
When Benvolio returns I want him to run back to Romeo’s side and say in a voice without any emotion that Mercutio has died. I want him to sound emotionless as the death of Mercutio has hit him hard and it’s not something that any expected would happen.
“This day’s black fate on moe days doth depend:
This but begins the woe others must end.”
Romeo too should sound emotionless when he says this; I think it’ll help make the audience feel for Mercutio’s death, which is important I think in making Mercutio’s death effective in this play.
I want Tybalt to come in with his sword hanging limply from his hand and I want him to look dazed as his enters, but when he spots Romeo again I want him to look defensive and move towards Romeo.
As Benvolio sees Tybalt I want him to lay a hand on Romeo’s arm, this is as Benvolio doesn’t want any more fighting to be going on. However, Romeo moves towards Tybalt and says his first three lines quite quietly, but then I want him to grow gradually louder during the rest of his lines until he gets to
“Either though or I, or both, must go with him.”
By the time he gets here I want him to scream the words at Tybalt. Tybalt should look slightly taken aback but then he gathers himself quickly and I want him to lift his sword up as he is saying his lines.
Romeo too draws just after Tybalt, he says his line
“This shall determine that.”
I want them both to lunge for each other and the entire fight will last no longer than two minutes, the fight should consist of them both lunging at each other in a mad fury, then at the very end of the fight I want Tybalt to stumble just as Romeo lunges at him. Tybalt’s arms would be flailing and Romeo’s sword drives into Tybalt’s heart. Romeo should pull back and Tybalt bends over and falls to the ground. At this scene in front of him I want Romeo to fall to his knees, for him to drop his sword and look at the audience with a shocked look on his face.
Benvolio moves over to Romeo and tries to lift him up and get him to move as he says his lines.
“Romeo, away be gone!
The citizens are up, and Tybalt slain
Stand not amazed. The Prince will doom thee death,”
Romeo should all the while be staring into the crowd, and then he says loudly that he is “Fortune’s fool.” The theme of fate not being able to be controlled and is in fact controlling them comes in again. I want for Benvolio to pull Romeo up harshly so that he staggers a little and for Benvolio to push Romeo towards the side of the stage. After Benvolio has said his line I want Romeo to rush off stage.
Not long after Romeo has left the stage the citizens should enter, I think two or three would be apt enough. They should look as if they’re talking to each other as they enter. They see Benvolio and the one that entered first should ask him
“Which way ran he that killed Mercutio?
Tybalt, that murderer, which way ran he?”
Benvolio should look up at them after staring in the direction that Romeo went, he should then point at the dead body of Tybalt as he says
“There lies that Tybalt.”
As Benvolio says that I think he should drop to his knees on the floor as the citizen tells him to get up in his next line.
The Prince should enter first, then Lord and Lady Capulet, when lady Capulet sees Tybalt lying dead on the ground I think she should utter a small shriek and then cover her mouth with her hand, Lord Capulet should hold onto her after that outburst. Following them will be Lord and Lady Mountague and then both houses servants, who I want to be trying to get as far away from as possible. I want for the Capulets to move to the left of the stage, whilst the Mountagues move to the right and the Prince is facing forward towards the audience.
Everything should go quiet in respect for the Prince and the Prince’s voice should sound regal and loud in the quietness of everything when he asks
“Where are the vile beginners of this fray?”
Benvolio meanwhile is still on his knees, he looks up at the Prince when the prince asks this and answers in a quiet, subdued voice.
I want Lady Capulet to have been struggling in her husband’s arms whilst Benvolio is saying his part, then she breaks free and moves closer to the Prince. I want her to sound rather hysterical.
“Tybalt, my cousin…
O Prince! O husband! …
For blood of ours shed blood of Mountague…”
When she pleads to the Prince I want her to face the Prince, then when she cries “O husband!” I want her to turn to her husband, then for the last bit I want her to look at the Mountagues with complete and utter distaste.
I think the Prince should let her say her piece, then merely look at her. I then want him to turn once again to Benvolio as he asks him what happened. Benvolio should answer in an emotionless tone once again to show that he is not siding with Romeo.
After her first outburst, Lady Capulet was restrained by her husband once more, after Benvolio tells an accurate account of the fight I want for her to break free again and move a few steps closer to Benvolio. I want her to point her finger at him as she blames him for being biased.
“He is a kinsman to the Mountague:
Affection makes him false; he speaks not true.
…Romeo slew Tybalt; Romeo must not live.”
Her voice should sound unnaturally high as she hisses it out at Benvolio. However, as the audience know that she is not right it does not matter too much what she says, but the Prince can tell from her disturbed manner that she is not truthful. When he says his next lines I want the Prince to stare at Lady Capulet as if to silence her.
After the Prince asks what should be done, who’s blood should be given in order to set right matters I want for Lord Mountague to step forward when he says his lines, I want him to deliver them like you would to a good friend who need a little bit of convincing.
“Not Romeo, Prince; he was Mercutio’s friend;
His fault concludes but what the law should end –
The life of Tybalt.”
When he says the “life of Tybalt” I think Lord Mountague should point at Tybalt’s body.
As the Prince gives out Romeo’s punishment I think that he should speak slowly, calmly and loudly, I want him to look from one family to another throughout the speech. I want for Lady Mountague to be weeping when she hears what is in store for Romeo, banishment and I want her to fall to the ground and to touch the Prince’s feet. When she does this I want the Prince to move his feet away and look at her with disdain, then say this part of his speech
“I will be deaf to pleading and excuses;
Nor will tears nor prayers shall purchase out abuses.”
Once he has finished his speech I want the Prince, followed by the citizens to leave the stage in the direction from which he came, I want the Capulets to follow him, then Lord Mountague and Benvolio should pick up the still weeping Lady Mountague and lead her out followed by their servants. Once they have all left the stage I want the lights to dim slowly until it’s totally dark as this is where the interval will be. This way no one will see Tybalt’s body being moved and for what has happened so far in the play to be taken in by the audience.