Verona is foreign but uncannily familiar; and it’s impossible to see everything in one visit. So, like any foreign land it doesn’t hurt to have a little context before your visit. Overall, Verona is going through a tough time. Generations of disease have decimated the population, and life is now driven by a language of quarantine and distance. To touch another person risks bringing ruin to yourself and your household. Which means love must be controlled, and The Montagues and The Capulets are determined to control it.
But love is a disease far more insidious--far more contagious than any other, and Verona is just about due for an outbreak.
On any given morning, the first person you would see walking down Verona's empty streets is Maria. Burdened with a strong back and a stronger heart, her days must start early. She is a nurse, a nun, a nanny--friendly, fierce, and funny. She facilitates at the church in the morning, and manages one of Verona’s most prestigious households in the evening-the Capulets’.
Her dedication to the Capulets has resulted in her practically raising the youngest Capulet; Juliet, of whom she is quite fond. But her greatest friend and most trusted confidant is often no more than a few steps behind her, Friar Lawrence.
Friar Lawrence has dedicated his entire life to the running and managing of Verona’s only church. Often considered the heart of the community, most of Friar Lawrence's time is spent sanitizing hands and cleansing souls. Even Lord Montague comes to Friar Lawrence for advice and guidance.
Although many consider him their friend, in his heart, Friar Lawrence only has one friend, Maria, who not only helps him with his many tasks, but also keeps him organized and on task. Friar Lawrence readily admits that the church would have crumbled long ago without Maria's help.
The third most eager person to greet the morning in Verona is Mercutio--who is also in the business of saving souls, but doesn’t see how a church would be much use in that endeavor. Mercutio preaches love and acceptance, connection in a time of distance, and can often be seen writing these sermons in chalk on the sidewalk.
Although born into humble beginnings, Mercutio’s childhood was mostly spent at the Montague household, with best friend Romeo, and Lord Montague--who taught Mercutio how to get into trouble without it looking like getting into trouble.
The fourth most anxious person to greet the morning in Verona is Tybalt--Juliet’s slightly older Capulet cousin. If Mercutio preaches love and acceptance, Tybalt preaches mistrust and distance. Fearful of the plagues that have ravaged for generations in Verona, Tybalt sees strict enforcement of the rules as lifesaving work, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the community follows the rules set by their progenitors.
Even now, before most have awakened, Tybalt carefully monitors Mercutio, who is so carefree that Tybalt can think of little else.
As the morning draws on Lord Montague takes his daily stroll through town, which he considers his first child. In Lord Montague's eye, Verona was built on the backs of the Montagues, whose sacrifice and dedication saved the community from utter destruction by plague. He can trace the first face mask to a Montague, the first hand sanitizer to a Montague, even the first air handshake was performed by a great great great granduncle. And as a father, Lord Montague couldn’t be prouder of Verona. The same can’t be said of his son Romeo, with whom Lord Montague is not very impressed.
Lady Capulet couldn’t care less about heritage. She is forward- thinking. She sees the future of Verona and has built an empire realizing that future. The Montagues may have invented it, but She was going to perfect it. And in order to perfect it she must be a model of what that perfection looks like. Forget the plague, she’s never even gotten a cold.
Regrettably, her dedication to work meant she doesn’t have much time to spend with her daughter, Juliet, but when they do spend time together… you better believe it is the best mother daughter time in the whole damn city.
Juliet does not care what her mother thinks, and learned long ago not to listen. Juliet longs for an exotic land where there are no last names and you can be anyone you choose. Where you can choose anyone to be with. Where there are no boundaries to seeing, or reading, or touching, or kissing, or dreaming. She knows no such land exists, but she also learned that you can make the world you want from her mother, and that the only thing that really matters is finding someone to share the world with from Maria.
If you are lucky, and visit Verona late in the day, you might catch a glimpse of Romeo. He has spent his life wondering what all the fuss is about, and wishes he had the courage to figure out life on his own terms. And while trying to maintain a six feet radius with all others is maddening, it isn’t as terrifying as being alone.
Scene One - Good Morning
One by one, the characters enter the streets of Verona.
Scene Two - The Party
Mercutio holds a masquerade party where everyone can hide their faces and show their true desires.
Scene Three - Falling
Romeo and Juliet fall in love on a balcony. Lady Capulet and Lord Montague unwittingly fall in love. Mercutio falls for a misunderstood enemy. Maria and Friar Lawrence share a love they fell for long ago. Tybalt wonders why everyone has fallen.
Scene Four - Rising
Maria rises in the morning to find Juliet ready to marry Romeo—who tells Father Lawrence his plans to marry Juliet—whose mother raises her suspicion that Lord Montague considers their night together as more than a fling—which Lord Montague can’t stop thinking about as he keeps crossing paths with Lady Capulet—who fails to realize that her daughter is secretly getting married, her maid is secretly helping her daughter, and Tybalt is plotting to purge the world of her daughter’s secret fiance.
Mercutio spends one final day in life finding joy.
Scene Five - Killing
Mercutio intercepts Tybalt and tries to kill a lifetime of rage and replace it with love. Lord Montague and Lady Capulet try to kill their attraction through confessing to Maria and Father Lawrence. Romeo watches his best friend die and kills his best friend’s killer.
Juliet feels powerless to stop any of it.
Scene Six - The Other Side
Mercutio and Tybalt realize that death is not the end of their story. Lady Capulet and Lord Montague realize that they have blinded each other to tragedy they should have prevented. Romeo and Juliet realize that there is no returning and fall deeper into the unknown together.
Maria and Friar Lawrence realize that if they want to be together, it can only be on the other side of Verona’s walls.
Scene Seven - Breaking
Romeo is a broken person who was hoping that Juliet could fix him. She couldn’t. Romeo abandons Juliet on her their wedding night. Mercutio tries in vain to help Romeo see that love can make things right.
Juliet’s heart is broken; refusing to accept that she is powerless, Juliet hatches a plan to force Romeo to return to her. Tybalt assists her.
Maria and Friar Lawrence prepare to abandon Verona, but feel obligated to the community they have served for years. Maria wants to see Juliet one last time and break the news that she is leaving.
Lord Montague and Lady Capulet break their vows.
Scene 8 - Facing
Maria catches Lord Montague and Lady Capulet in bed together, a secret that could destroy them both. Romeo turns to Friar Lawrence for help finding peace within himself. Mercutio and Tybalt face off. All turn to face the balcony where Juliet has killed herself.
Scene 9 - Perchance to Dream
Each couple reunites.
All leave, as night descends on Verona’s empty streets.