Shakespeare's comment on friendship, love, constancy and fickleness, this romantic comedy takes us from the controlled world of Verona and Milan to the wildness of the forest where, it seems, anything can happen.
Two gentlemen part ways
Valentine sets off from Verona for Milan to see the world. Despite Valentine's best efforts to persuade him to come too, Proteus, his best friend, stays at home because of his love for Julia.
She is in love with him too, but neither knows of the other's love until Lucetta, her maid, shows Julia a love letter from Proteus. Julia denies her feelings to her maid, but once alone reveals how strongly she feels about Proteus.
He is reading her reply when his father, Antonio, informs him of his decision to send him to Milan and the duke's court to join Valentine. The lovers take their leave and swear eternal constancy.
Friends become enemies
In Milan, Proteus finds that Valentine has fallen in love with Silvia, the duke's daughter, and plans to elope with her to foil her father's plan to marry her to Turio.
When Proteus see his friend's beloved Silvia, he too falls completely in love with her and puts aside his feelings for Julia.
Valentine confides his plans to elope to his friend but Proteus, now infatuated with Silvia too, betrays the plan to the duke and Valentine is banished from Milan.
In the wilderness he encounters a band of outlaws and is elected their leader.
Two ladies remain constant
Meanwhile Julia, disguised as Sebastian, has come to Milan in search of her beloved Proteus. Overhearing him declare his passion for Silvia, she is devastated but, under cover of her disguise, enters his service as a page.
When Proteus sends her with a message to Silvia, Julia is encouraged to find that his advances are rejected and that Silvia remains faithful to Valentine.
The forest reconciles friends and lovers
Silvia escapes into the forest to join Valentine. The duke and Turio (Silvia's betrothed) set out in pursuit, followed by Proteus and Julia (still disguised as a page).
Silvia is captured by the outlaws but then rescued by Proteus who, seeing that she still spurns him, tries to force himself on her.
Valentine intervenes and Proteus is forced to confront his act of betrayal.
Julia faints and in so doing reveals her identity and prompts Proteus to remember his feelings for her.