A Rose by Another Name
Twisted from Romeo and Juliet
Romeo: But why has my fair Juliet not kept,
Her oath of meeting me in night’s dark shroud?
What could keep her past our appointed time?
I pray she was not caught by steps too loud.
Juliet: (stepping out of the shadows)
You think me to be prisoner of war?
What lies! Nay, I gave myself up to them.
Romeo: (turns, looking shocked)
My Juliet, why have you done this thing?
Juliet: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Even if I take your name as my own,
A Capulet I shall remain in heart.
Romeo: My angel, what is this you say to me?
What of the vows we made in nights before?
Juliet: Such vows were made when drunk with love’s first glance,
Keeping such a vow will honor none here.
And dead men will not tell of broken vows.
(draws a dagger and advances on Romeo)
Romeo: Alas, my angel is fallen from grace!
(stumbles backward, away from Juliet)
Her love has turned to hate for her name’s sake!
Juliet: My love was never a love to remain,
But by your blood I swear my name will stay!
(Romeo runs away as Capulet and Lady Capulet come from behind her)
Capulet: And have you done away with Romeo?
Pray tell you’ve put an end to this strange night!
Juliet: That coward of a Montague has run,
But he will yet return to sway my thoughts.
He does not know ’tis not my lips that wait,
But a dagger to pierce his coward’s side!
(Exit the Capulet family, enter Romeo and Benvolio)
Romeo: (panting heavily)
What has happened to my poor Juliet?
Benvolio: It seems infatuation passed at last.
Romeo: She tried to stab me with her own fair hands!
Infatuation has twisted to hate,
A feat I did not know until this night.
Benvolio: (pats Romeo’s shoulder sympathetically)
Perhaps she grew mad over Rosaline?
And used your name as reason for revenge.
Romeo: I do not know what turned my lover’s mind,
I only know I must revert it back.
Benvolio: There is no need for such a thing as this!
Move on, dear friend, for other girls await.
Romeo: My love for Juliet will never wane,
She must be mine, or I will fall insane!
(exits the stage)
Benvolio: This whole affair is more than I had thought,
It seems the juice is not worth all its squeeze.
Yet Romeo is stubborn as an ox,
I must persuade this Capulet to change!
(Benvolio walks to the other side of the stage toward the Capulet house as Nurse comes out the door with a basket of laundry)
The house of Capulet is turned a-muck,
All that are here are armed and tempers flare.
Benvolio: Pray tell why Capulet is armed for war?
Nurse: Good sir, hello. I cannot say such things.
Such secrets are not mine to tell, you see.
But I can tell you this one bit, at least.
(leans in to whisper confidentially)
It seems a love affair has just occurred,
Between two feuding homes, I’ll say no more!
Save this, that Juliet appears possessed.
My lady’s eyes a-fire with such a rage!
Benviolo: Then Romeo did not exaggerate!
She did come after my friend with a knife!
Nurse: You are close to the boy from Montague?
What fortune I have met you on my rounds!
Whatever this boy has done to my dear,
You must have him renounce it for her sake.
I tremble to see her with such a hate,
And see the violent stirrings in this house.
I fear what was once simply a cold feud,
May yet become a heated bloody fight!
Benviolo: Do not fear such events, Capulet nurse.
For Romeo will not do your girl harm.
His own feelings for her are not of hate,
But of a love he wishes to resume.
Nurse: What gossip I have heard from your mouth, boy!
My Juliet must have been harmed by him.
And yet I hope your gossip is no lie;
For none should wish for bloodshed in these streets!
Now leave this place, you friend of Montague,
For friends of theirs are not safe in these times.
What times are these, when things are upside down!
But there is not time for mulling around,
I must attend to Lady Juliet.
(Curtain falls, then opens to Juliet’s room, where Juliet holds a bloody knife while
standing over the body of Benvolio)
Nurse: Innocent angel, what have you in here?!
Juliet: This traitor lies at my feet in his blood,
For he was not the friend that he proclaimed.
He is with Montague, those slimy fiends!
Who worm into your trust with wicked lies.
No more shall they gain love or trust from me!
All shall bleed for that name I nearly took.
Nurse: To spill their blood is but to spill your own!
For feuds are fought not only from one side.
Be sure to spare your skin, not just your name.
Juliet: And now you too sound like a Montague!
You, who were like a mother these years,
Have now betrayed us to the other side!
(Juliet stabs Nurse, who falls next to Benvolio with a scream. Capulet and Lady
Capulet enter at a run.)
Lady Capulet: We heard a scream! Why does your room glow red?
Juliet: (crying) This Montague has shed Capulet blood,
Benvolio has killed Nurse, my dear friend!
Capulet: This blow against our house we will not stand!
The Montagues will pay in their own blood!
Again they strike against our Juliet,
This silent feud shall flare into a war!
Juliet: We knew this day may come when steel would fly
Between the two great houses of our town.
Lady Capulet: No one from my house shall again be slain,
If they bear our name or serve those who do.
(Curtain falls and opens to show Romeo talking with Friar Laurence)
Friar: Perhaps it is God’s will that she has left,
So that she may marry young Count Paris.
Romeo: How can it be God’s will when love for her,
Burns without condition like His for us?
Friar: Take care that love does not blind you to blood,
For rumors stir of enmity that grows.
Romeo: No war shall break between our houses yet,
For one has not done the other a wrong.
The Montagues will not hasten to steel,
Nor Capulets to run the streets with blood.
(Enter Montague fighting Capulet, Lady Montague fighting Lady Capulet, Juliet fighting Mercutio)
Romeo: But what is this?! Verona is at war!
How can my friend and lover fight to death?
How can the lords and ladies brawl on streets?!
To see my fair Juliet drenched in blood!
Friar: What honor can they gain by such a fight?
You must break them apart, dear Romeo!
Romeo: My Lord and Lady Capulet, please stop!
My mother, father, put away your swords!
My friend, do not make one more move for me!
My love, my Juliet, please come to me!
Juliet: I’ll not come to one of your house and name!
For shame, that you think I would stoop so low!
You may come to me if that is your wish,
But know my blade will hunger for your side!
Romeo: Is it not your lips that hunger for mine?
What of the love that we so gladly gave?
Juliet: You gave not love to me, but lies, you swine!
Your vows of passion cannot hide your name.
Romeo: (steps closer to Juliet)
Your kiss, so soft! Is stronger than your sword,
Gentle Juliet, you will not hurt me.
Juliet: (swipes at Romeo)
Your words, like sweetened lies, are vile to me!
Romeo: (clasps a hand over his stomach)
And yours sting deeper than your blade will pierce!
Mercutio: How can you let your daughter kill him thus?
You heathens of demonic rage shall die!
For it is not the Montagues who slay,
But friends who hate Capulets in their place!
(Mercutio fights Capulet, Montague fights Lady Capulet, and Lady Montague rushes
to her son. Friar exits.)
Juliet: And here we have the root of all my pain!
(kills Lady Montague)
She will not bring him back to life and health.
Romeo: (weakly) Worse than any pain of the flesh is this,
To see my two great loves in conflict now.
Death would be welcome compared to this scene,
Of Montagues versus my Juliet. (dies)
Montague: Your lust for blood has led to war, my lord!
Perhaps your own will satisfy your thirst.
(kills Lady Capulet)
Capulet: (screams in fury and kills Mercutio)
If every person of Verona falls,
Perhaps that price will pay a debt of war.
Montague: You only make the debt grow larger sir,
And you will pay the greatest price of all.
(doesn’t notice Juliet coming up behind him as he steps forward and kills Capulet)
Juliet: The Capulets will pay no more today!
(stabs Montague from behind)
(Enter Paris and the Friar as Juliet stands alone in the street littered with corpses)
Paris: Juliet, an angel standing in death!
What has taken place in these bloody streets?!
Friar: A feud too long in standing exploded,
My lord, but one from these houses still stands!
Juliet: Prince Escalus will banish me, I know.
But he banishes me from a city,
That my kin died to make pure once again!
No more will lies of Montague defile,
And kill, as they killed my cousin Tybalt.
Paris: My Juliet, whatever have you done?
Your hands are wet with blood of those who’ve died!
Juliet: My hands may be defiled; my name is pure.
A rose I still am, a rose I’ll remain.
Thorny and blood-red, but sweet all the same.