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Romeo & Juliet


Duke of York's Theatre

St Martin's Lane, London WC2N 4BG 0333 009 6690

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  • Synopsis
  • Theatremonkey show opinion
  • Reader reviews
  • Performance schedule
  • Ticket prices

WHERE TO BUY TICKETS / "BUY OR AVOID" SEAT GUIDE

Ends 3rd August 2024.
NOT SUITABLE FOR THOSE AGED UNDER 12. MAY CONTAIN SCENES THAT SOME PEOPLE WILL FIND UPSETTING.
 

He loves her, she loves him, the families are less keen. Teenagers, eh?!

Bill the Quill romantic classic, in Jamie "Sunset Boulevard" Lloyd's new vision. Tom Holland stars. Casting details are given for information only. Theatremonkey.com cannot be responsible for the non-appearance of any actor.

(seen at the afternoon performance on 30th May 2024)

As both regular readers know, the monkey now benchmarks this play against the Almeida Theatre’s 2023 production. That was clear, concise, and brilliantly acted. The only gimmick a falling wall at the beginning and a heart-breaking candle-lit ending.

Jamie Lloyd productions always go the opposite way. Blending video technology and sound effects, the result is invariably, achingly, 21st Century. This time, however, he harks back to the original performances as they would have been at the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare’s day.

Back then, actors would have stood in a row stepping forward to recite lines, rarely indulging in moving around the stage except when a device was employed. Add a few stand microphones, and Lloyd is doing mostly the same.

This line of speakers works rather well, delivering a strange intimacy which contrasts nicely with the busy activity required to film actors for projection on the large screen of Soutra Gilmour’s sparse set.

Soutra’s concrete “Verona” is seen only pre-show, relegating it to oddity. A simple step to sit on at the edge of the plinth, a rising mesh screen and that is about all we get. Nathan Amzi and Joe Ransom pick up the slack with video effects, composer Michael “Mikey J’ Asante filling the theatre with strange wailings from foyer onwards (and not just at the bar prices). 

Jon Clark keeps lighting funerial so that recorded actors contrast with the background, while Ben and Max Ringham ensure we hear it all. Thus are we immersed from the start in where this production lays its scene.

Jamie Lloyd’s direction is M25 in pace. Regular changes of speed according to the number of people around, the attractiveness of the immediate surroundings, plus the random unexpected to keep us alert.

Despite projecting a countdown of days, there is little sense of emotional development in the story arc's timeline. Francesca Amewudah-Rivers in particular is already a knowing Juliet, everything figured out. She rails against fate rather than being swept along by it, but does discover some interesting interpretations of the verse along the way.

Her Romeo, Tom Holland, is also emotionally mature. His best scene comes early, conversing with Nima Taleghani’s Benvolio. Two lads seated on the curb, willing to open up to each other about girls and the problems inherent in pursuit thereof. 

The same curb is used between Holland and Amewudah-Rivers for their balcony scene. Visually unsatisfying, but fairly useful in focussing on the words of both. 

Juliet’s nurse, Freema Agyeman appears almost as young as her charge; their juvenile dance at Juliet’s impeding marriage ill-judged and adding to the impression. Fortunately, Agyeman’s experience compensated elsewhere as her delivery took on first wise counsel before alarm as the failure to deliver crucial information emerges.

Faring better, Michael Balogun’s Friar is a helpful commentator, Tomiwa Edun’s Capulet a less stern father.

Over-use of spaces with in the theatre lend a peculiar air to the sub-plots, with Paris (Daniel Quinn-Toye) having to deliver a key moment in a corridor, and an odd advert for the theatre bar (well, it seemed like an advert) sucking the heat from the important party scene.

The encouragingly new audience clearly wanted to engage with the language to the  full, but this busy delivery seemed not to rise to their enthusiasm. They were able to laugh at the modern words and physical comedy introduced, particularly when it occurred at the end of a speech, but missed sadly anything mid-sentence as they couldn't decode it fast enough.

Seldom less than engaging, and reaching many for whom “Romeo & Juliet” is at best a schoolroom memory, this is not the greatest tale of woe ever presented, but it is innovative and may achieve legendary status through memory of its casting alone. 
 

The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.

Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Runs 2 hours 15 minutes approximately, including an interval.

WHERE TO BUY TICKETS / "BUY OR AVOID" SEAT GUIDE

Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.

Duke of York's Theatre Price seating plan

UNDER 30s, KEY WORKERS AND BENEFITS RECIPIENTS: A range of tickets, including the front row, will be available, price £25 each at www.atgtickets.com. Proof of entitlement will be required when collecting tickets. Full details of who can use this system can be found at https://romeoandjulietldn.com/ticket-information/.

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