Romeo and Juliet
Reviewed on Wednesday 25th May 2016
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet continues the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company's Plays at the Garrick season, reuniting Branagh with Lily James and Richard Madden who he previously directed in Disney's live action remake of Cinderella.
Branagh and Rob Ashford's production focuses on style; there are some striking moments, but they haven't staged a must-see version of the classic. Some interesting ideas have been thrown into the mix; James' Juliet seems wiser beyond her years whilst Derek Jacobi is able to have an absolute field day as Mercutio. At its best, Christopher Oram's design feels dreamlike and cinematic.
Despite having worked together before, James and Madden lack that all-important spark. Both are good actors, but their chemistry is lacking in excitement. Maddon's performance is a little underwhelming; his accent slipped back into Scottish a couple of times - he can't quite keep up with the likes of Jacobi and Meera Syal who is stellar as the Nurse.
It isn't until the final scene that things are finally taken up a gear - everything falls into place to create a powerful conclusion. It's a shame that the play couldn't reach this level sooner. There might be one or two glimmers of excellence, but this production is very much style over substance.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
Romeo and Juliet runs at the Garrick Theatre until 13th August 2016.
Please visit www.branaghtheatre.com for further information and tickets.
Romeo and Juliet will be broadcast live to cinemas across the UK and internationally on 7th July in partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment. Visit www.branaghtheatrelive.com for info.
Photo Credit: Johan Persson