The Chorus gives the background to the play: two families, of equal rank and worth, have renewed their bloody and interminable feud, and are butchering each other in the streets of Verona. Only one thing could bring peace between them, and that, the tragic love and death of two young people, will form the action of the play.

The young men of Verona are going to practice their swordsmanship. Peter and Gregory, Capulet servants, hope to get in a fight with their rivals, the Montagues. The Montagues arrive in the Piazza, a brawl breaks out and grows increasingly serious. Only the arrival of the Prince prevents further bloodshed.
After the crowd disperses Monatgue and his Wife tend to their wounded, relieved that their son Romeo is not among them. They’re worried about Romeo’s recent solitary behavior, and his friend Benvolio promises to discover the reason for it.
Romeo arrives and is distressed by signs of the recent fighting, but more so by the unrequited love that torments him. Benvolio advises his friend to look at other women, but Romeo is devoted to his elusive love.

Capulet returns from the Prince’s palace, where he has been enjoined to keep the peace. The County Paris accompanies him, asking for his daughter Juliet in marriage. Capulet invites the Count to a ball that evening so that Paris may woo Juliet, and gives his servant Peter a list of other guests to invite. Peter cannot read, so he turns for help to the first literate person he bumps into: Romeo. Romeo reads the names aloud for Peter, learning that his beloved, Rosaline, will be at the Capulet ball. He will also go.

Capulet’s Wife is preparing for the ball, and tells Juliet that she will meet her future husband that night. Juliet responds modestly, but her Nurse is delighted for her coming joy.
Romeo, Benvolio and their friends prepare to crash the ball, disguised in masks. Mercutio, a young nobleman, tries to rouse Romeo from his lovesickness, but Romeo replies that he’ll just hold a torch and watch the dancing.
The Capulet servants bustle about, the guests arrive, the dancing begins. Tybalt, a hot-headed Capulet, recognizes Romeo and would fight him there and then, but Capulet angrily forbids it.
Romeo sees Juliet. He is transfixed by her, and approaches her as Love’s Pilgrim. She responds to him, taking up his image of pilgrimage, and they, twin souls, complete a sonnet in their first discourse.
Juliet is called away by her Nurse, Romeo by his friends. Juliet learns that the man who has taken her heart with him is a Montague.

The Chorus returns to celebrate that Romeo loves and is loved in return.
As Mercutio and Benvolio stagger homewards after the ball, Romeo hides from them. Juliet appears on her balcony, rhapsodizing on Romeo, as he silently watches and listens, enraptured, from the orchard below. Unable to remain speechless any longer, Romeo cries out to his love and they exchange vows. Juliet will send her Nurse tomorrow to get the plans for their marriage.

Romeo joyfully tells Friar Laurence of his new love. Initially the priest scolds him, thinking that this is just another trivial romance, but when he realizes the good that could come of this union, he agrees to perform the ceremony.

Benvolio and Mercutio are in the Piazza, waiting for Romeo. When the Nurse comes from Juliet for the message, Romeo tells her privately that he and Juliet can be married that afternoon.
At home, Juliet waits impatiently for the Nurse’s return. Her Nurse toys with her, delaying the news, but finally relents and tells her.
Romeo and Juliet are married at Friar Laurence’s cell.

In the blazing heat the young men hang around the Piazza, looking for trouble, none more eagerly than Mercutio and Tybalt. Romeo tried to keep the peace, but in his efforts to mollify Tybalt, Mercutio is stabbed. Romeo, enraged by the slaughter of his dear friend, wheels on Tybalt, killing him, then flees. The Prince banishes Romeo.
Juliet feverishly awaits the night, and her new husband. When the Nurse tells her that Romeo has murdered her cousin Tybalt and is banished, she is so grief-stricken that her Nurse promises to find Romeo for her.
Romeo, hiding at Friar Laurence’s cell, is distraught. Laurence, after trying to comfort him, and after the Nurse has assured Romeo that Juliet still loves him, tells him to go to his wife for this one night. But before dawn he must leave for Mantua, and wait there until it is safe to return to Verona.

County Paris is paying a mourning call on Juliet’s parents. Capulet, unwilling to let so fine a match slip from his grasp, tells Paris that he may marry his daughter on Thursday.

Romeo must part from Juliet after an ecstatic night of love. He assures her that they will be reunited. After he has left for Mantua Juliet is called to speak with her Mother, who informs her that she will be married to Paris in two day’s time. This Juliet violently rejects, to the fury of her father, who promises to disown her if she does not obey, and storms out. Her Nurse then counsels her to forget Romeo and rejoice in her second husband. Now entirely alone, Juliet will go the Friar Laurence, the only person she can confide in.

Paris is with Friar Laurence to arrange the wedding. When Juliet arrives she exchanges a few strained words with the Count, then, when she is alone with the Franciscan, begs for his help. He gives her a potion which will cause a death-like sleep. Her family will convey her to the Capulet Monument, leave her, and when she wakes up, the Friar and Romeo will be there waiting for her.

The Capulet household is busily preparing for the wedding when Juliet returns and meekly promises to obey, delighting her father, who decides to move the wedding forward one day, to tomorrow.

Alone in her room, Juliet’s devotion to Romeo enables her to overcome her dread of the upcoming ordeal, and she swallows the potion.

Capulet has been up all night preparing for the wedding. He sends the Nurse to awaken Juliet. The Nurse finds her, seemingly, dead, and the entire household mourns. Friar Laurence commands that Juliet be borne to the family crypt.

Romeo’s man, Balthazar, tells him that Juliet is dead. Romeo sends him away and buys poison from an Apothecary.

Friar Laurence finds out that the message he sent to Romeo never reached him: the Friar who was to deliver it was quarantined in Verona on suspicion that he had been in a plague house.

Paris comes to leave flowers at Juliet’s grave; hearing someone approaching he withdraws. Romeo and Balthazar have returned from Mantua. Romeo dismisses Balthazar Paris challenges Romeo, they fight and Paris is killed.

Romeo enters the tomb and marvels at his young wife’s preserved beauty. He drinks the poison and dies, giving Juliet a farewell kiss.

Friar Laurence approaches the Monument and meets Balthazar who has stayed in the graveyard, concerned for Romeo.

Juliet awakens and Friar Laurence urges her to leave with him, but she will stay with her husband, and, after the priest flees, she stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger.

Paris’ Page returns with Watchmen, closely followed by the prince, the Capulets and the Montagues. On learning the story of their children’s love and death, the families declare an end to the feud.

Synopsis by Beverly Bullock

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