In the age of Shakespeare, the actors of the Globe Theatre are
rehearsing for what is probably the first performance of Romeo and
Juliet. As the enthusiastic audience pours in and the lights dim,
the Verona market place slowly looms out of the darkness.
The market place gets populated, and members and servants of the
Capulet and Montague Houses start a fight. Swords are soon drawn,
and many are killed in the fray, which is eventually halted by the
Duke of Verona.
In the bustling kitchen of the Capulet House a cheeky Juliet
teases her Nanny. The dignified and solemn Lady Capulet surprises
her daughter with a gift, but, at the same time, points it out that
Juliet is no longer a child.
Party guests are entering the Capulet house. Romeo, Mercutio and
Benvolio, disguised in masks, are planning to gatecrash the ball.
Before entering, they witness a sinister apparition, as the Witch
Queen Mab asks them for a dance. At the ball, Romeo and Juliet fall
in love at first sight. Juliet meets Paris, her appointed fiancé,
but his advances evoke a chilly response from her side. Tybalt
recognises the unwelcome guests and reacts with a wild rage, but
Capulet, head of the house, pacifies him. Mercutio's frolics do
little to calm Tybalt down - he gets more and more offended. At the
end of the ball the guests leave. Romeo climbs the wall of the
Capulets' orchard, and on the balcony of the empty house he sees
Juliet in a reverie. The lovers engage in a sweet
Merry crowds revel in Verona's market place, with religious
processions, jugglers, and a mob hungry for entertainment. Juliet's
Nanny, dressed up top elegantly, brings her young lady's message to
the group of clowning youths. Romeo follows the Nanny to Friar
Laurence's cell, where the lovers get married.
In the market place Tybalt searches for Mercutio, yearning to
return the previous night's prank. Mutual insults are performed,
followed by a clash of swords in which Tybalt, a skilled fencer,
mortally wounds the everfooling Mercutio. Even while dying,
Mercutio continues to act, but before death finally fights him
down, he curses both families. Romeo, wild with rage, sets off
after Tybalt, and kills him in a fierce fight. After the duel,
Romeo's friends make him escape from the Duke's fury and the
expectable heavy sentence.
Romeo finds temporary refuge in Friar Laurence's cell, where
Juliet's invitation finds him.
After their nuptial night, Romeo must bid his angry-but-loving
Juliet refuses the pressure by her parents' that she marries
Paris. Desperate and left without support, she flees to Friar
Friar Laurence beseeches Heaven for help in vain. There only
seems to be one way out: he persuades Juliet to drink a magic
liquor that will make her seem dead.
Returning to her chamber, Juliet seemingly consents to marrying
Paris. When all leave, she drinks the poison, and the next morning
is found dead in her bed.
A gloomy funeral procession accompanies Juliet to the Capulets'
crypt. Heartbroken, her parents and Nanny bid her final farewell.
Soon after the mourners have left, Romeo turns up. He thinks his
love truly dead, and commits suicide to follow her. Friar Laurence
arrives too late; the awaking Juliet finds her Romeo dead, and in
endless desperation stabs herself with Romeo's dagger.
The crypt expands into a cosmic space, the bier rises into the
starry light, and crowds of Romeos and Juliets dance around the
passed away lovers.
The group of Romeos and Juliets are converted into the Globe's
audience, and Shakespeare's actors, including Romeo and Juliet,
thank for their applause. The performance at the Globe is