Romeo & Juliet (1986)
Two distinguished families of Verona, the Capulets and the Montagues, have been feuding so long that no one remembers the reason for the quarrel. The feud involves everyone from the heads of the households to the lowliest servants. The ruler of Verona, Prince Escalus, and the citizens of Verona have had enough. After a brawl in the marketplace, the prince decrees that next offenders will be put to death.
Despite the problems, Lord Capulet hosts a dinner and dance at his estate. He has invited many of the nobles of the city, including Mercutio, a cousin of the Prince, who is also good friends with Romeo Montague. Mercutio convinces Romeo and his cousin Benvolio to go along, wearing masks. At the Capulet house, Juliet’s mother and her nurse broach the subject of marriage with young Juliet. Count Paris, a cousin of the Prince, has asked for Juliet’s hand in marriage. Juliet, who is only two weeks away from her fourteenth birthday is in no hurry and her mother asks that Juliet meet with Paris and simply consider the offer. At the party, Romeo is recognized by Capulet’s hothead nephew Tybalt and Tybalt urges his uncle to unmask Romeo. Capulet reprimands Tybalt, saying there will be no scuffle at the party. Meanwhile, Romeo has seen Juliet and has been charmed by her. They have a brief encounter and then Romeo is rushed away by his friends.
Juliet discovers he is a Montague and is shocked by the news. Later, she goes out to her balcony to mourn the information that Romeo is her enemy. Romeo has scaled the walls to her orchard and reveals himself to Juliet. They pledge their love and resolve to marry quickly. With the assistance of their priest, Friar Laurence, and Juliet’s nurse, they marry the next morning in secret. The Friar hopes that the union will help to end the two families quarrel. Later in the afternoon, Romeo meets up with Mercutio and Benvolio. They are accosted by Tybalt who is still angry over Romeo’s attending the Capulet party. Romeo refuses to fight with Tybalt so Mercutio steps in. Romeo tries to break the fight apart and Tybalt kills Mercutio under Romeo’s arm. Romeo becomes enraged and kills Tybalt. Benvolio convinces Romeo to run away before the Prince arrives. Benvolio explains to the Prince and citizenry what happened. The Prince banishes Romeo from Verona. The nurse delivers the news to Juliet who breaks down and weeps and weeps. Romeo and Juliet have one stolen night together before he leaves for Mantua.
Lord Capulet, thinking to help lessen Juliet’s grief, betrothes her to Paris. She refuses to wed the Count and her father threatens to disinherit her if she does not obey. Juliet goes to the Friar for help. He gives her a potion that will put her into such a deep slumber she will appear dead. The potion lasts for 42 hours. He plans to send word to Romeo and they will spirit Juliet out of Verona, giving the Friar time to make all known to the two families. Juliet takes the potion on the eve of her wedding to Paris. Her family mourns her as dead and place her in the Capulet’s tomb.
Sadly, before the Friar’s letter reaches Romeo in Mantua, his servant Balthasar reaches him and tells him that Juliet is dead. Romeo buys poison from a poverty stricken apothecary and rides back to Verona. He meets Paris at the tomb. Paris tries to prevent Romeo from entering the tomb and Romeo kills Paris. He goes to Juliet, kisses her one last time, and kills himself by drinking the poison. Juliet wakes up when Friar Laurence arrives. She sees that Romeo is dead and refuses to leave with Friar Laurence, who is frightened from the tomb by the sound of the officers of the Watch. Juliet tries the bottle of poison but it is empty. She takes Romeo’s dagger and kills herself. The families and the Prince gather at the tomb where they discover the price of their senseless quarrel.
This most famous of love stories is thought to have been written in 1591 and is grouped, like The Two Gentlemen of Verona, is the “Early Plays” (1590-95).