Romeo & Juliet (Review)

Romeo & Juliet

(Critique en français : cliquez ici)


Director: Jamie LLOYD

Text edited by: Nima TALEGHANI

Set and costume designer: Soutra GILMOUR

Lightning designer: Jon CLARK

Sound designer: Ben and Max RINGHAM

Video designer and cinematography: Nathan AMZI and Joe RANSOM

Composer: Michael ‘Mikey J’ ASANTE

Movement directors: Sarah GOLDING and Yukiko MASUI (Say)

Intimacy co-ordinator: Ingrid MACKINNON

Associate director: Jonathan GLEW

Associate designer: Rachel WINGATE

Associate costume designer: Anna JOSEPHS

Casting Director: Stuart BURT CDG




At The Duke of York’s theatre

Until 3 august 2024


Jamie LLOYD‘s Romeo & Juliet was eagerly awaited, as evidenced by the ‘Sold Out’ ticket sales within two hours (a few tickets are now becoming available following cancellations)!

An eagerly awaited Romeo & Juliet, then, but also a highly anticipated one, given the announced cast. If there’s one thing that’s incredible, it’s the performance of this cast! We’ve never been confronted with such a high level of acting. Everyone is absolutely remarkable. The emotions the actors manage to convey, often without even looking at each other, are absolute diablerie! We loved Tom HOLLAND‘s performance as a dark, primitive, angular and slightly awkward Romeo. He’s a world away from the juvenile boy in the role that made him famous: Spider-man. A real rediscovery!
In the same way, Francesca AMEWUDAH-RIVERS plays Juliet, where every expression and every word has a precision and intention that leave us breathless. Between them, they shake us up, make us laugh (yes, they do!) and, above all, impress us.
Also impressive is Nima TALEGHANI as Benvolio. In his role, he has a casual and massive presence… almost animal-like.
Daniel QUINN-TOYE‘s ability to engage the audience is astonishing. He is unbelievable in his lightning and scattered appearances. A three-second glance glues us to the wall. He plays a Paris of arrogant beauty, without any condescension. So it’s not his self-confidence as a Count that annoys us, but his aura.The character is constantly and intelligently detestable. He brings out in us the baser instincts of jealousy and distrust. A master stroke. As a result, we find ourselves avidly curious to have the opportunity to see him play Romeo (Daniel is Tom HOLLAND’s understudy) in a performance that is bound to be different. It’s a desire that audiences who have come to see the star of the show are unlikely to share, but we bet they’ll come away just as blown away by one or other of the actors.

Each character in this version is alternately sublimated and profaned. We see them all shine and fall. It’s something unique.

So why is it that those who loved Jamie LLOYD’s previous show, Sunset Boulevard, come away disappointed by Romeo & Juliet? Why, on the other hand, do those who didn’t like Sunset Boulevard, as we did, find themselves in the opposite position here? The arguments are the same on both sides for each show. Incomprehensible duality on the same concept. For a long time we debriefed on Romeo & Juliet with colleagues immediately after the performance. There was a fascinating debate between us: exchange of points of view, cordial disagreements, shared observations.In any case, if the play is divisive, it provides an interesting subject for conversation and contrasting points of view. Proof, and this is a sign of a successful work, that it does not leave anyone indifferent. But whether or not you like Romeo & Juliet or Sunset Boulevard remains to be seen.

Over the two and a half hours of performance, there are several cuts in the text that are not always welcome. On the other hand, the merging of certain characters is well executed and adds a new dimension to certain lines in the text. For example, Lady Capulet’s lines are shared by nurse and Capulet. Unfortunately, other characters remain under-exploited. This is true of Tybalt and Mercutio, whose deaths leave us completely indifferent. As for the death of the two main characters, it cannot leave us without a reaction. Here again, the bias of the story is both controversial and divisive. A bias towards the essential. It is a crude and summary compilation of SHAKESPEARE’s play that leaves no place for accessories. The result is a hundredfold appreciation of the actors’ cathartic performance. Pure juice and joy!

There’s no getting away from the sound. There are two extremes here, between texts spoken in a low voice and others that drum in our ears as much as the original music. Like the game itself, the precision of the sound is impeccable. We love the sound effects given to the voices of the Prince and the apothecary, even though they can be difficult to understand for viewers unfamiliar with the play and its text. But when we are in a whisper that undercuts a muffled cry, we find ourselves, once again, bewildered and satisfied.

One frustration comes from the extremely brief teaser ‘Violent delights have violent ends’, which leads us to expect a very violent version. We’re left wanting more. We’re also surprised that the creative team includes an intimacy co-ordinator, as it’s not daring enough for our taste, as evidenced by the lark-singing scene, which is far from kinky (when we say kinky, we mean dirty.) We expected to be shocked more than once, and in the end it’s dark but not so scandalous. In spite of everything, you get a good sense of the transgression in the intended approach of this production.

Finally, the lighting adds a certain character by remaining perfectly horizontal most of the time.

Romeo & Juliet could have been a ‘coup de coeur’, such is the genius and talent of each of the people involved in this production. Unfortunately, there are also aspects that are not exploited or that do not add value, leaving us with a sort of indecision about our feelings. You come away feeling upset and frustrated.

You’re going to take some kicks and you’ll probably want to take even more! Because Romeo & Juliet by Jamie LLOYD is aggressive and that, strange as it may seem, is a compliment.


Violents delights have violent ends  !


Credit Photo : Marc Brenner










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