Romeo and Juliet is set in Verona, Italy, where there is an ongoing feud between the Montague and Capulet families. The play opens with servants from both houses engaged in a street brawl that eventually draws in the family patriarchs and the city officials, including Prince Escalus. The Prince ends the conflict by issuing a decree that prohibits any further fighting at the risk of great punishment.
Meanwhile, Romeo, a young man from the Montague house, laments his unrequited love for a woman named Rosaline, who has vowed to remain chaste for the rest of her life. Romeo and his friend Benvolio happen to stumble across a Capulet servant, Peter, who is trying to read a list of invitees to a masked party at the Capulet house that evening. Romeo helps Peter read the list and decides to attend the party because Rosaline will be there. He plans to wear a mask so that he will nobody will recognize him as a Montague.
Romeo arrives at the Capulets' party in costume. He falls in love with young Juliet Capulet from the moment he sees her. However, Juliet's cousin Tybalt recognizes Romeo and wants to kill him on the spot. Lord Capulet intervenes, insisting that Tybalt not disturb the party because it will anger the Prince. Undeterred, Romeo quietly approaches Juliet and confesses his love for her. After exchanging loving words, they kiss.
Afterwards, Juliet's Nurse tells Romeo that Juliet is a Capulet, which upsets the smitten youngster. Meanwhile, Juliet is similarly distraught when she finds out that Romeo is a Montague. Later that night, Romeo climbs the garden wall into Juliet's garden. Juliet emerges on her balcony and speaks her private thoughts out loud. She wishes Romeo could shed his name and marry her. Upon hearing her confession, Romeo appears and tells Juliet that he loves her. She warns him to be true in his love, and he swears by his own self that he will be. Before they part, they agree that Juliet will send her Nurse to meet Romeo at nine o'clock the next day, at which point he will set a place for them to be married.
The Nurse carries out her duty, and tells Juliet to meet Romeo at the chapel where Friar Laurence lives and works. Juliet meets Romeo there, and the Friar marries them in secret.
Benvolio and Mercutio (another one of Romeo's friends) are waiting on the street later that day when Tybalt arrives. Tybalt demands to know where Romeo is so that he can challenge him to a duel, in order to punish him for sneaking into the party. Mercutio is eloquently vague, but Romeo happens to arrive in the middle of the verbal sparring. Tybalt challenges him, but Romeo passively resists fighting, at which point Mercutio jumps in and draws his sword on Tybalt. Romeo tries to block the two men, but Tybalt cuts Mercutio and runs away, only to return after he hears that Mercutio has died. Angry over his friend's death, Romeo fights with Tybalt and kills him. Then, he decides to flee. When Prince Escalus arrives at the murder scene, he banishes Romeo from Verona forever.
The Nurse tells Juliet the sad news about what has happened to Tybalt and Romeo. Juliet is heart-broken, but she realizes that Romeo would have been killed if he had not fought Tybalt. She sends her Nurse to find Romeo and give him her ring.
That night, Romeo sneaks into Juliet's room, and they consummate their marriage. The next morning, he is forced to leave when Juliet's mother arrives. Romeo travels to Mantua, where he waits for someone to send news about Juliet or his banishment.
During Romeo and Juliet's only night together, however, Lord Capulet decides that Juliet should marry a young man named Paris, who has been asking for her hand. Lord and Lady Capulet tell Juliet of their plan, but she refuses, infuriating her father. When both Lady Capulet and the Nurse refuse to intercede for the girl, she insists that they leave her side.
Juliet then visits Friar Laurence, and together they concoct a plan to reunite her with Romeo. The Friar gives Juliet a potion that will make her seem dead for at least two days, during which time Romeo will come to meet her in the Capulet vault. The Friar promises to send word of the plan to Romeo.
Juliet drinks the Friar's potion that night. The next morning, the day of Juliet and Paris' wedding, her Nurse finds her "dead" in bed. The whole house decries her suicide, and Friar Laurence insists they quickly place her into the family vault.
Unfortunately, Friar John has been unable to deliver the letter to Romeo informing him of the plan, so when Romeo's servant brings him news in Mantua that Juliet has died, Romeo is heart-broken. He hurries back to Verona, but first, buys poison from an Apothecary and writes a suicide note detailing the tragic course of events. As soon as Friar Laurence realizes that his letter never made it to Romeo's hands, he rushes to the Capulet tomb, hoping to arrive before Romeo does.
Romeo arrives at the Capulet vault and finds it guarded by Paris, who is there to mourn the loss of his betrothed. Paris challenges Romeo to a duel, and Romeo kills him quickly. Romeo then carries Paris' body into the grave and sets it down. Upon seeing Juliet's "dead" body lying in the tomb, Romeo drinks the poison, gives her a last kiss - and dies.
Friar Laurence arrives to the vault just as Juliet wakes up. He tries to convince her to flee, but upon seeing Romeo's dead body, she takes her own life as well.
The rest of the town starts to arrive at the tomb, including Lord Capulet and Lord Montague. Friar Laurence explains the whole story, and Romeo's letter confirms it. The two families agree to settle their feud and form an alliance despite the tragic circumstances.
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We start off with a little action: a duel between the servants of two enemy families of Verona: the Montagues and the Capulets. After the swords are sheathed, Verona's Prince shows up to say that the next person who fights is going to get killed, and he means it this time.
Along comes Romeo Montague, mooning over some chick named Rosaline. Meanwhile, Juliet Capulet, age thirteen, has just heard that Verona's most eligible bachelor Paris has his eye on her. They're going to check each other out that night at a masquerade ball at the Capulets' house. Romeo and his friends have decided to crash the Capulet ball—in costume—because Rosaline is on the guest list.
Things take a turn when Romeo meets Juliet. They fall instantly in love, obviously, but then—gasp!—find out they're from rival families. It's all very dire, but, being two crazy kids in love, they have a secret meeting and decide to get married. Vegas road trip, anyone?
Oh wait. No Vegas. Instead, Romeo meets with Friar Laurence to arrange the marriage, and Juliet gets her nurse to be a go-between. The Nurse meets Romeo and his friend Mercutio (who thinks the whole situation is hilarious), and they arrange to get Juliet to Friar Laurence.
Get ready for some more names: Benvolio, another member of the Montague posse, runs into Tybalt Capulet, who is angry about the Montagues crashing his family party the other night. Romeo, freshly married, strolls into the middle of a tense situation—which gets way tense when Tybalt kills Mercutio and Romeo promptly kills Tybalt in return. Romeo jets, but the Prince still shows up to banish him. (Hey, at least he's not going to be killed.)
Juliet hears from the Nurse that her new husband has murdered her cousin, which is a major bummer—but not enough of a bummer to keep her from being super stoked about her wedding night. The Nurse finds Romeo hiding at Friar Laurence's, and the Friar hatches a plan. Romeo can spend his wedding night with Juliet, but then he has to leave town while the Friar finds some way to get the Prince of Verona to pardon Romeo.
Meanwhile, back at the Capulet house, Lord Capulet decides a wedding (to Paris) is just the thing to distract Juliet from her grief. Oops. After Juliet's awesome, romantic wedding night, she finds out that she's supposed to marry Paris in two days. Even her nurse thinks she should marry Paris, since Romeo is "as good as dead" to her.
Juliet runs over to Friar Laurence's, where she has a weird kiss with Paris and then threatens to kill herself. The Friar comes up with a plan that is 100% guaranteed to work and doesn't sound risky At All (not): giving her an herbal concoction that will make her appear to be dead for 42 hours. Yes, exactly 42. So, she runs home, agrees to marry Paris, and takes the poison so she can be taken to the Capulet tomb where Romeo can find her and everyone can live happily ever after.
Sadly, Romeo is a little out of the loop off in Mantua, and the news of Juliet's "death" makes it to Romeo before word of the Friar's plan. He buys some poison so he can go to Juliet's grave and kill himself, which is obviously the mature response. But first, he murders Paris and then spends some time with Juliet's "dead" body.
He drinks the poison and dies just in time for Juliet to wake up and find him dead. Argh missed connections. The Friar, who apparently shows up at some point, tries to convince Juliet to run away, but she refuses and kills herself with a dagger. Just then, literally everyone shows up to the tomb at the same time and finds the dead lovers. Friar Laurence confesses everything, and the two lords of the rival houses are moved by their dead children's love story and agree to end the feud. Happy ending?