Read and watch synopses of Shakespeare’s most famous stories

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Within this section of Playground, you can watch animations to explore some of Shakespeare’s plays.

Scroll below to read short synopses and watch videos for The Tempest, Titus Andronicus, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and Twelfth Night.

Say hello to the playground beasts, they’re here to guide you through the videos.

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A Duke named Prospero is banished to an island with his young daughter for not doing his job very well.

On the island, he becomes very powerful and forces two magical beings who live there to do what he says.

After many years, Prospero is still upset that he was banished so when his old friends and family are sailing on the seas nearby he causes their ship to crash onto his island.

His daughter falls in love with a man from the ship. Prospero confronts the people who banished him and they resolve their issues. His daughter and the man on the ship get married.


Titus Andronicus is a General in the Roman Army who returns from war where he has captured Queen Tamora and her sons.

Tamora is very angry and decides to get revenge on Titus Andronicus. She gets her sons to attack Titus’ daughter. This makes Titus very upset and people think he is starting to go mad.

However Titus was only pretending to have gone mad, and to get revenge on Tamora he kills her sons and bakes them in a pie. This causes a huge fight killing almost everyone in the play!


Romeo and Juliet are teenagers from two families who don’t like each other – the Montagues and the Capulets.

Romeo sneaks into a party that the Capulets are hosting and sees Juliet for the first time. They fall in love but have to keep their relationship a secret from their rival families.

A fight breaks out between the two families: Juliet’s cousin Tybalt kills Romeo’s best friend Mercutio. In revenge, Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished for this crime.

Even though Romeo killed her cousin, Juliet still loves him so comes up with a plan for them to be together. She takes a potion which makes her appear dead (she’s actually just in a deep sleep). Her family thinks she has died and put her in a tomb.

Romeo doesn’t know about the potion so also thinks Juliet is dead. When he visits the tomb, he is so upset that he kills himself. Juliet wakes to find Romeo dead and she too kills herself.

The two families find them both and are very sad. They decide they will no longer be enemies because of the tragic impact it had on their children.


Lysander and Demetrius both love Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander but has to marry Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander run away to the forest to be together. Demetrius follows them to get Hermia back. Hermia’s friend Helena, who is in love with Demetrius, also follows.

Also in the forest are a group of amateur actors who are rehearsing a play. The group is led by Bottom, who is very confident but not very good at acting.

The forest is also home to fairies. The Fairy King and Queen have fallen out and the King tells his fairy minion Puck to play a trick on the Queen: to give her a potion which makes her fall in love with the first person she sees. Puck discovers the group of actors, turns Bottom’s head into a donkey’s head and makes sure that’s the first thing the Queen sees when she wakes up. The Queen falls in love with a donkey!

Puck also gives the potion to Lysander and Demetrius. They both see Helena first and fall madly in love with her, which makes Hermia mad.

In the end, Puck undoes the spells and the Fairy King and Queen make up. Demetrius and Helena get married, and so do Lysander and Hermia. Bottom’s head turns back to normal and his group of actors perform at the wedding ceremony.


Macbeth has just won a battle when three witches come to give him a prophecy. They tell Macbeth he will one day be King of Scotland but he must also beware of a man called Macduff.

Macbeth tells his wife Lady Macbeth who encourages him to believe the prophecy that he will be king. When the current King Duncan comes to visit she convinces Macbeth to kill him so that he can become King.

Macduff is not happy that Macbeth is King and suspects he is up to no good after Macbeth hurts his family. True to the prophecy Macduff finds Macbeth and kills him.


After a shipwreck Viola washes up on the shores of Illyria. She was on the ship with her twin brother Sebastian who she fears has disappeared forever.

In order to blend in, she disguises herself as a boy called Cesario so she can work for Duke Orsino. Orsino is in love with Olivia and sends Cesario to her to convey his love. However, when Olivia sees Cesario she falls in love with the disguised Viola instead of Orsino.

Meanwhile, Sebastian, Viola’s twin, finds his way to Illyria with the help of his friend Antonio.

The twins are reunited, which is very confusing to Olivia and Orsino as they thought they were the same person. Viola explains that she was wearing boys’ clothes as a disguise and that she is not really called Cesario. Olivia then marries Sebastian, and Orsino marries Viola.