Romeo and Juliet

Tragedy
Verona, Italy, 1500s

There are two families who hate each other: the Montagues and the Capulets. Let’s call it a blood feud. Romeo from Montague sneaks into a Capulet party to spy on Capulet babe Rosaline, but instead gets a glimpse of another Capulet dame, Juliet, who’s 14,  and falls in love. He falls hard. No more Rosaline fixation. Juliet’s the thing.

Right about now Romeo gets discovered by Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin and hardcore Capulet man. Rom gets  kicked out, but not before Juliet gets a good look at him too. Yep. Love at first stare. He sneaks to her place later that night and hangs out by the balcony where they exchange first words, then declarations of undying love. They arrange to meet the next day and get married by Friar Lawrence, who takes confessions for both warring houses. So now they’re married. But secretly.

Meanwhile, Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin and a Capulet, is wandering around town and gets into a fight with Mercutio, a Montague. One thing leads to another and suddenly Mercutio is dead, Romeo’s on the scene and kills Tybalt in revenge, and things are super messy.

The Prince of Verona banishes Romeo from the city forever for this murder. However, the flow communication in the 15th century is a little different than today and there are some significant mixups in who receives what information at what time. Sound confusing? It is. Romeo is supposed to meet Juliet for one more night of bliss before he has to flee the city, and there are helpful people such as Juliet’s Nurse, and the kindly Friar Lawrence...and some of these people - ahem, Friar Lawrence - end up making things much worse by trying to help. That’s a good life lesson in there for you.

So Friar Lawrence inexplicably comes up with the Byzantine plan to give Juliet a sleeping potion that will make everyone think she’s dead so she won’t have to marry Paris - oh yes, that was a thing the parents arranged to help ease the sorrow of Tybalt’s death. So when people show up to get Juliet for her wedding..she’s dead. Or appears to be. Friar Lawrence sends someone to tell Romeo to come get his sleeping wife that everyone thinks is dead...but the message doesn’t make it and Romeo doesn’t have a mobile phone. Because again, it’s the 16th century.

Romeo is heartbroken and buys some real poison. See some serious foreshadowing going on? Yeah. Real poison. He heads back to Verona, goes to Juliet’s tomb where’s she’s sleeping-slash-dead, runs into poor Paris who’s sad because his almost-wife is dead; in a continuing tragic opera of comic proportions, Romeo kills Paris too. Sad. And then takes the poison. The real poison.

Because this is a tragedy, it’s inevitable that Juliet wakes up immediately after Romeo takes the (real) poison. Friar Lawrence shows up as well so she finally gets the full picture of what’s happened. They hear noises, everyone else is showing up, and she does the only thing that makes sense to her heartbroken heart: she stabs herself to be with her beloved Romeo, whom she met a few days before. There’s a life lesson in there too. But not for Juliet. She’s dead. They’re both dead.

The Prince, the Capulets, Romeo’s dad, they’re all there. Two big sad families on one big mournful occasion. But the bright spot? Tragedy either pushes you apart or pulls you together, and in this case, the deaths of their children lead the Capulets and Montagues to realise how ridiculous and petty their blood feud is. They make peace, promise to make a monument to their children’s memory, and live happily ever after as well. Until they die. Because everyone dies. Except Romeo and Juliet died much sooner. Last life lesson: sometimes take a little time to think on things before making a big decision. Sometimes, he or she who hesitates is not lost. They’re saved.

The End.



{ read Macbeth }

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