We should all be roughly familiar with Shakespeare’s tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet. As far as fast romance goes, Romeo, while infatuated with one girl, quickly falls for another. Good on him, but unfortunately both get tangled in forbidden romance (thanks to their families). They struggle to stay together, but only to die one after another in careless misunderstanding. What most of us don’t know is that their deaths were partly caused by a man called Friar Lawrence. You know how it is, too many cooks spoil the broth, and helpful as he may have been, it was he who indirectly killed the pair of lovebirds in pursuit of their freedom. Watch it happen live at this year’s Shakespeare in the Park, where the Friar is played by Daniel Jenkins. Until May 22, watch him meddle with this medley of starcrossed lovers, family feuds and unexpected death. Who doesn’t like a good drama?
Get your tickets now. Just don’t forget your picnic mat, beer and of course, to show up.
Did you grow up reading Shakespeare?
Not really. My mother was a great lover of theatre and Shakespeare in particular so she was always dragging my brother and I along to watch productions. It was only when I was in my teens that I picked up a copy of Macbeth and started actually reading the text and began to appreciate the language, stories and genius of the man.
How long have you been preparing for this play?
We rehearse for 5 weeks and then have just over a week in the park for tech and dress rehearsals.
Have you played the Friar before?
No. This is the first time. I think there comes a time in an actor’s life when he realises he will never play Romeo and the Friar is the next in line. I knew it was probably coming.
What do you like about playing this character?
I’m so lucky to have played such a variety of Shakespearean characters, from the drunken butter Stephano in SRT’s The Tempest last year, to the epitome of evil Iago in SRT’s Othello in 2013, so it’s nice to play someone a little more reserved and holy. Plus, I get a rather nice costume this year!
Is Rosaline visible in this version of the play?
No, only talked about but never seen!
What do you think of Romeo’s short-lived passion for Rosaline?
Do you believe that Juliet’s treated as a rebound love for Romeo?
Not at all. I may be a man of the cloth but I can tell the difference between mere doting and real love!
Romeo kills Tybalt and then Count Paris. What do you think is his problem?
Teen angst or in the words of Nirvana it could just smell like teen spirit! Either way – young love! What can you do?
You create a potion to fake Juliet’s death. What’s in it?
As the Friar is a keen gardener, the potion contains many unusual and highly illegal home grown plants and herbs. No wonder the Friar is always so calm and chilled out. Of course he’s also a little forgetful and makes some really dodgy decisions so that might be a result of the herb!
Romeo commits suicide after seeing “dead” Juliet, and Juliet kills herself after. Think it’s entirely the Friar’s fault?
Of course not… or maybe a little. Alright he doesn’t always make the best suggestions or choices but he’s really doing it for the benefit of Verona and to reconcile the families and you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, can you?
What moral message do you reckon Shakespeare wanted to portray through the story and different characters?
Forget about love, lust and sex. Get thee to the church and live a pure, chaste, rather boring life instead! Or in the words of Friar Laurence himself : ‘Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast!’.