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Two rival families, the Capulets and the Montagues, dominate city life, but their feud seems to have calmed for the moment. Everyone takes part in the ritual evening walk. A sudden commotion occurs as a group from the Capulet family cross the street, threatening to disrupt the evening’s harmony. Romeo and Benvolio and their friend Mercutio, watch but decide to keep their distance for now. Capulet and Tybalt, the leaders of the Capulet group, also appear. The tension seems to rise again between the two families and a fight is unavoidable. Friar Laurence appeals for them to stop, warning them about the possible tragic consequences of such public aggression.
Juliet, accompanied by her friends, prepares herself for the upcoming ball. It will be her first introduction into the world of the adults and her Mother is worried about her daughter’s oncoming departure from childhood and the innocence it guards. Tybalt and other invited guests from the Capulet family arrive and are welcomed by Juliet’s Mother. Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio, who were not invited, sneak into the ballroom. Capulet enters the ballroom and at once the guests are overwhelmed by his dominant presence. Romeo and Juliet see each other for the first time and there is an obvious attraction between them. Juliet’s father persuades her to dance for the other men, he is looking for a suitable husband for her. Tybalt, seeing that Romeo is fascinated by Juliet, decides to intervene, but Mercutio, who has also witnessed Romeo’s attraction deflects Tybalt’s actions to protect his friend.
Romeo and Juliet seek each other out, and, when they finally manage to steal a moment alone, Romeo asks Juliet to dance for him. At first she dances in the same way she had for the other men, but this is not what Romeo wants – he wants her to trust him. The two are falling in love with each other but as this would be anathema for both clans, Capulet and Tybalt turns against Romeo and he and his friends are thrown out of the house. Later, outside of the Capulet house, Romeo comes to find Juliet and when they meet they confess their love for each other. They eventually part with the ominous feeling their families, deadly rivals as they are, will never approve of their love.
A street in
Despite his reservations, Friar Lawrence unites the two in a secret wedding ceremony.
Again the people fill the street. The Capulets, led by Tybalt, march by. The tension is rising again. Romeo interrupts an argument between Tybalt and Mercutio. He wants to maintain the peace, but they start to fight with each other anyway. Tybalt kills Mercutio, stabbing him in the back, desperate and enraged Romeo attacks Tybalt and dispatches him in a lethal duel. Both families watch.
Juliet is driven to despair. At her rendezvous with Friar Laurence, he suggests that she takes a potion that will put her in a long, death-like sleep, explaining that if her family and friends discover her lifeless body they will assume she is dead, and she will be free of her bounds. Juliet agrees and the Friar promises he will tell Romeo of this deception so that he may join her and they can escape to be together. Left alone, Juliet swallows the potion and faints. She is discovered by a group of friends and family who at once begin to grieve her death.
Friar Lawrence has been unable to deliver the message to Romeo in time. Romeo returns to discovers Juliet’s body and, believing she is dead, is consumed by grief. If he cannot be with her, he does not want to live. Clutching the dagger he used to kill Tybalt he plunges it into his chest and dies beside her. As Juliet awakes from her sleep, her eyes focus on Romeo’s lifeless body. Her true love has been taken from her and with a deep longing to be with her husband for one last time. She takes Romeo’s dagger and takes her own life.
Both families, touched by grief, prepare the bodies for burial.