Romeo and Juliet – Meet the Characters
Use this unit to familiarise yourself with the characters of The Royal Ballet's Romeo and Juliet.
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is one of the classic works of English Literature. The Royal Ballet’s production of Kenneth Macmillan’s version of the story stays true to the structure and characters of the original tragedy, which charts the blossoming of young love across the divide of two warring families.
The only child of Lord and Lady Montague, Romeo is an idealistic dreamer who falls in love with Juliet when he gatecrashes her family’s ball. In spite of the quarrel between the Montagues and the Capulets, Romeo marries Juliet in secret, and poisons himself when he mistakenly believes her to be dead.
Only daughter of Lord and Lady Capulet, Juliet is only 13 years old and betrothed to Paris, whom her parents want her to marry. She falls in love with Romeo at her family’s ball, and marries him in secret. News of her plan to take a potion making her appear dead, thus allowing her to escape her family, does not reach Romeo in time, and she stabs herself when she wakes to find Romeo has taken a phial of poison.
Mercutio is a close friend of Romeo, but also a blood relative of Juliet’s betrothed, Paris. He is therefore able to move between both the Capulet and Montague houses. Humorous, but also volatile, Mercutio fights a duel with Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, in which he dies.
Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin, and the main antagonist of the story. Quick to anger, he recognises Romeo through his disguise at the Capulet family ball. As Tybalt is a relative of Juliet, Romeo does not want to fight him, but kills him in a rage of anger after Tybalt kills Mercutio in a duel.
Benvolio is Romeo’s cousin, and is the unsuccessful peacemaker of the story. After he kills Tybalt, Romeo’s punishment is lessened to banishment, rather than death, due to Banvolio’s pleading.
Paris is a nobleman who wishes to marry Juliet. He is a guest of honour at the Capulet’s ball. Juliet resists her parents’ command to marry Paris, and is punished. Paris is killed by Romeo in a duel at Juliet’s tomb side.
Lord Capulet is Juliet’s father and Tybalt’s uncle. He tries to calm the animosity between Romeo and Tybalt at the Capulet ball, but he also tries to force his daughter into marriage with Paris.
Like her husband, Lady Capulet tries to force and threaten Juliet into marrying Paris. After he kills her nephew, Tybalt, Lady Capulet expresses her desire for revenge on Romeo.
Escalus, Prince of Verona
Escalus is the ruler of Verona, the Italian city in which the story takes place. He is a relative of Paris, and banishes Romeo after his fatal duel with Tybalt.
At the beginning of the ballet, before Romeo sees Juliet at the Capulet ball, he is in love with Rosaline, Juliet’s cousin. Rosaline is very beautiful, but his love for her is eclipsed when he meets Juliet.
Friar Lawrence is the priest to whom both Romeo and Juliet confide their love. The friar marries the two lovers in secret and is the one who arranges the doomed plan for Juliet to take the potion which will make her appear dead.
A wealthy nobleman, Lord Montague is Romeo’s father, and has a long-standing feud with Lord Capulet. Along with Benvolio, he pleads with Escalus to have Romeo’s sentence lessened to banishment after Romeo kills Tybalt.
Lady Montague is Romeo’s mother. She tries to calm the bitter rivalry between her husband and the house of Capulet.