Joanna Vanderham marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death – speaking Juliet’s monologue from the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet.

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, The Guardian has asked leading actors to perform key speeches from his plays. Here, Joanna Vanderham speaks Juliet’s monologue from the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. She and Romeo have declared their love for each other, despite their families’ feud, and Juliet insists that her devotion is true.

Read the full text for this speech

Thou know’st the mask of night is on my face,
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek
For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night
Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny
What I have spoke: but farewell compliment!
Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say ‘Ay,’
And I will take thy word: yet if thou swear’st,
Thou mayst prove false; at lovers’ perjuries
Then say, Jove laughs. O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully:
Or if thou think’st I am too quickly won,
I’ll frown and be perverse an say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world.
In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond,
And therefore thou mayst think my ‘havior light:
But trust me, gentleman, I’ll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange.
I should have been more strange, I must confess,
But that thou overheard’st, ere I was ware,
My true love’s passion: therefore pardon me,
And not impute this yielding to light love,
Which the dark night hath so discovered.

BOOKING

Book tickets to Romeo and Juliet in the West End.