Starcrossed: Gay reimagining of Romeo and Juliet heading to London stage

Turns out the greatest love story ever told was actually between Mercutio and Tybalt.


Words: Will Stroude; Image: Supplied

An acclaimed play that reimagines William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as a gay love story between supporting characters Mercutio and Tybalt is heading the London stage for the first time.

Rachel Garnet's Starcrossed, which premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2018, is set to make its UK debut at Wilton’s Music Hall in London from Wednesday 1 June - Saturday 25 June.

The newly-announced London run will be directed by Philip Wilson, with a full cast and creative team still to be announced.

Starcrossed shifts the focus of Shakespeare's world-renowned 1597 tragedy onto Romeo's best friend Mercutio and Juliet's cousin Tybalt, who in the original story find themselves at loggerheads due to the bloody feud between warring families the Montagues and the Capulets.

An official synopsis for the show reads: "In this fresh twist on one of the world’s most famous love stories, Starcrossed reveals the intrigue and passion of a forbidden romance forged in strife, stifled by circumstance and silenced by history."

"Reimagining Shakespeare’s verse for the modern age, Rachel Garnet’s tender, witty and heart-wrenching new play gives unfairly sidelined characters new life, and has received critical acclaim since first premiering at the New York International Fringe Festival."

Writer Rachel Garnet says in a statement: “To me, there is nothing more interesting, captivating or fulfilling to write about than love. And so, in adapting the most famous love story of all time, I had no ill-conceived notions that I could surpass what Shakespeare had created but instead I simply wished to explore the same excitement and risk of love he shared with us 400 years ago.

"Tybalt and Mercutio are two of the most engaging and memorable characters in the English language and I hope that British audiences will fall in love with them all over again, just as I did while writing the show.

"The life in the walls and floorboards of Wilton’s Music Hall make it the perfect home for Starcrossed, and I am excited for audiences to welcome Tybalt and Mercutio back to the UK where their story first was told."

Director Philip Wilson said: "When I first read Starcrossed, I was struck by how Rachel Garnet had taken an oh-so-familiar story and retold it in such a witty, imaginative and passionate way. The burgeoning love affair between Mercutio and Tybalt is so touching; and so tense to watch as we wonder if, in this parallel world, they will escape the fate that Shakespeare determined for them.

"Above all, it is a story of two young people struggling to explore their unexpected love, in a world riven by hate. I’m so excited to be introducing this play to British audiences - and Wilton’s Music Hall is the perfect venue in which to stage this story, steeped as it is with history, humour and song."

Starcrossed will be at Wilton’s Music Hall in London from Wednesday 1 June - Saturday 25 June. For the best deals on London's hottest shows, click here.