Romeo & Juliet

by William Shakespeare Year Published: 1597 Drama

The first performance of the play was at the playhouse called the Theatre where Shakespeare and his company the Lord Chamberlain's Men were based until 1597. The Theatre was the first purpose-built playhouse in London and could hold over 1,500 people.

As the title page of the play's 1597 edition tells us, Romeo and Juliet was a popular success in its day: '...it hath been often (with great applause) plaid publiquely'. Shakespeare designed it to be played in daylight on the simple thrust stage of an Elizabethan playhouse, where the balcony at the rear of the stage provided Juliet's bedroom window and a trapdoor in the stage was her tomb. No scenery and a minimum of props allowed the action to move swiftly and the audience to focus on the richly evocative language. Music and costume added to the effect.