The 1986 production of Romeo and Juliet by the Royal Shakespeare Company, nicknamed “Alfa-Romeo and Juliet” by Michael Billington of The Guardian, must have been a blast for audience members and actors alike.

From a review posted on The Mighty Bean:

The street fight between the mature, sozzled bachelor Mercutio (Michael Kitchen) and the sure-footed, savage and leather-clad Tybalt (Hugh Quarshie) provided one of the production’s dramatic highlights. It was portrayed more as the result of their respective vanities rather than the product of a long-standing, festering hatred with Mercutio leaping onto Tybalt’s car to avoid getting hit – then Tybalt stopping the fight to check for potential chips in his paintwork!

From the filmscoremonthly forum:

I saw him on stage in Newcastle upon Tyne 20 years ago, playing Mercutio in the RSC’s Romeo & Juliet of that season. It was set in a more modern-day Verona, and the famous fight scene was based around a car of the time that was on stage. In one hilarous bit of physical comedy, Kitchen broke off the aerial to stab Tybalt (Hugh Quarshie). Of course, it telescoped against Tybalt’s chest, leaving the audience in stitches. It was also a nice little nod at the usual cliche of the telescoping knife so often used on stage and in film.

And yet another description of the fight scenes from The New York Times:

Kenn Oldfield’s choreography and Malcolm Ranson’s slashing switchblade duels are highly charged assets. Consider, for example, the battle between Mercutio and Tybalt, which takes place on and around Tybalt’s sporty red convertible. As a challenge, Mercutio snaps off the aerial, then lies prone on the hood, knowing that his foe would not dare attack him on this safe ground.

Michael Kitchen and Hugh Quarshie reunited on screen 25 years later in White Heat playing characters not on the best of terms again.

White Heat: Michael Kitchen: Hugh Quarshie: reunion


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