Okay, so I'm not a super duper Ivory Tower snob, so I'm technically not allowed to have an opinion on any kind of Shakespeare, but here we go.
So far as Shakespeare goes, Henry V is still my favorite, but Romeo and Juliet is an extremely close second.
First, I'll explain my take on the two title characters romance. Okay, get your pitchforks and torches ready, because I don't think that they are the Paragon of True Love. I think they were impulsive and rushed things because of circumstance. I think that if their families hadn't been feuding, then they would have either gotten married eventually after getting to know each other, or they would've lost interest (similar to how Romeo quickly lost interest in Rosaline?) and started seeing other suitors.
That's the tragedy of it, if you ask me. It didn't have to be that way. This play made me really sad not because they were tragically star-crossed saints in love, but rather because they were impulsive kids who just wanted to be together and rushed into it without thinking of the consequences. [sniffle]
I liked the character development of the two. Romeo started out as an emo whiner but was sharpened into a determined young man; for better or worse. Well, worse.
Juliet is a typical ingénue, but also clever, and she actually keeps her head better than Romeo. And at the same time, she's totally your average girl.
How art thou out of breath, when thou hast breath to say to me that thou are out of breath?
The supporting characters were pretty good, too. I feel bad for Paris, I know a lot of productions demonize him for not being Romeo, but he seems to have a solid character, and I was pretty tensed up during the fight between him and Romeo. My favorite character was Mercutio, because even at death's door he's a total snarker. At first, I thought he was just being a drama queen, actually! Then it turns out he's really hurt. Ouch. That's when the play goes from Rom Com to straight up Tragedy, I think.
The Verdict: A-
This here is a Tragedy with very interesting characters, sword fights to balance out the love scenes, and actually a very satisfying ending! I read this to prepare the this orchestra semester where we will play the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture by Tchaikovsky! It's very pretty, and I think that now I understand the story, I'll be able to put that much more into performance.