Tom Holland isn’t the problem with Jamie Lloyd’s Romeo & Juliet – review

tom holland isn’t the problem with jamie lloyd’s romeo & juliet – review

Tom Holland is gripping in his adult stage debut as Romeo (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Tom Holland’s adult stage debut in Romeo & Juliet, review and star rating: ★★★

Hollywood stars do the West End for cache: to show they’re serious actors who can hack the relentlessness of the stage after years in film – but it’s rare for young stars at the height of Tom Holland‘s megafame to tread the boards. The last young actor at his level might have been Daniel Radcliffe back in 2008 when he bared all in Equus midway through his Harry Potter career, but I’ve not seen fandom like this on the London theatre scene: the night I went, half the audience blocked Charing Cross Road to catch a glimpse of Holland as he flew into his car after the show. (It would have been too dangerous for him to stop and sign autographs, it was the first time I’ve seen crowds like it in 15 years.) Inside, smartly dressed Gen Z kids were taking selfies with their parents as a thunderous techno prelude played, the stage cloaked in midnight black. This is event theatre, and regardless of what the critics say, Holland’s fans will pour over this excessively emo show whether it’s any good or not.

So, how is he? Engrossing, and able to find a wide range. For Tom Holland, Romeo & Juliet will achieve what he wanted, to show that he is a fine actor who needn’t be hemmed in by Hollywood blockbuster roles in movies like Spider-Man and Avengers. He can dive for emotion and use it well; you believe in his soaking wet eyes that his Romeo couldn’t imagine living a moment with Juliet. He’s also a fine storyteller, delivering his lines clearly and confidently. In his dropped shoulders and cautious lope he delivers his vulnerable, impressionable Romeo. Newcomer Francesca Amewudah-Rivers matches his energy as Juliet; when the kiss it’s so intense that no-one whoops, they just stare: you could hear a pin drop. Innovator Jamie Lloyd – recently behind Nicole Scherzinger’s West End debut in Sunset Boulevard – is at his best with his reimagined death scene. The duo sitting at the front of the stage together at first feels anti-climactic but the scene builds to an intensity and freshness that suits this young cast.

If you came to enjoy Tom Holland, you’ve got what you came for. Elsewhere, this Jamie Lloyd production falters. There’s a weirdly forced intensity to the whole production, the empty stage bathed in black for the entirety of the show with Lloyd employing his typical audio-visual elements, getting up into characters’ faces with cameras and projecting them on huge screens. The intensity brings a cultish emo glow to the production that I suspect fans will love, but it too often falls into melodrama. A reverberating bass note and other ‘atmospheric’ music plays throughout the entire show; which takes away from the drama, giving the more dramatic scenes a soapy feel. And tonally it often shoots and misses: after the death of Tybalt at the end of act one, Holland is seen running and screaming, covered in blood, but it’s so overproduced that it elicits laughter from the audience, not shock. It’s one of many moments where the timing feels just a little off, either through the music or direction, and by act two you struggle to take it seriously.

That’s no fault of the wider cast, who have devised fresh perspectives on these characters. Michael Balogun’s Friar Laurence fizzes with TV show host energy, Freema Agyeman gets some genuinely funny bits at Nurse, and Daniel Quinn-Toye, who made his professional adult debut as Juliet’s other romantic interest Paris, should have an exciting future. But Jamie Lloyd’s Romeo & Juliet suffers from feeling too one-note, the intensity too often feeling more like it drags than grips.

Romeo & Juliet plays at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 3 August

OTHER NEWS

22 minutes ago

Everton exclusive: Double deal on the brink but Dyche happy to offload winger in PSR-friendly move

22 minutes ago

'Mysterious monolith' appears in UK after similar sightings in Las Vegas and Wales

22 minutes ago

CNBC TechCheck Evening Edition: June 18, 2024

22 minutes ago

Renewables is the 'cheaper option' as we are already 'well down that path': Qld Premier

25 minutes ago

North Texas first responders mobilize as Gov. Abbott issues disaster declaration for TS Alberto

26 minutes ago

Canada’s senate passes foreign interference bill, now awaits royal assent

28 minutes ago

Liverpool to deliver shock first Arne Slot signing with Wolves raid nearing completion

28 minutes ago

The Colorado Avalanche's Best Active Homegrown Player: Brought to You By Upper Deck

28 minutes ago

A New, First-Of-Its-Kind Reese’s Cup Is Hitting Shelves Now

28 minutes ago

‘Thelma’ is a geriatric ‘Mission: Impossible’ and a total crowd-pleaser

28 minutes ago

Rapper Travis Scott is arrested in Miami on trespassing and disorderly intoxication charges

28 minutes ago

Pharrell Williams drops the highly anticipated LV Spring-Summer 2025 Men’s Collection

28 minutes ago

Florida mayor resigns with mass email to residents alleging corruption in small-town government

28 minutes ago

This new technology for nuclear power could help fuel the AI revolution

28 minutes ago

90s TV star looks ageless nearly 20 years after hit show ended in picture with children

28 minutes ago

Romanian president withdraws NATO candidacy, clearing way for Rutte

28 minutes ago

YouGov shares collapse 37%! What’s going on with this AIM stock?

28 minutes ago

Tributes pour in for maverick TV executive Nkateko Mabaso

28 minutes ago

British No 1 Jack Draper beats reigning Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz at Queen's in straight sets... days after claiming his first ATP Tour title

28 minutes ago

Pound for a pound: Paying obese teens up to £550 to lose weight helps them slim down, experts claim

28 minutes ago

Video: Watch bizarre moment footy star sprays his own genitals in pre-match act that leaves legend of the game stunned

28 minutes ago

Inside the V&A's stellar summer party: Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Anthony Joshua and Grace Jones

28 minutes ago

Prince Harry eyeing up 'secluded Georgian home' very near King Charles's beloved house

28 minutes ago

Are there still bargains on the FTSE 100? Here’s what the charts say

28 minutes ago

IMF chief says Europe looks like 'an ideas supermarket' for the U.S., calls for further integration

28 minutes ago

‘Record numbers’ of Australians are sleeping on the streets

28 minutes ago

Could Raspberry Pi be a growth share to buy and hold?

28 minutes ago

Musk Just Spilled Extra Details About the xAI Supercomputer. Super Micro, These Stocks Are Jumping.

28 minutes ago

Paul Maurice makes light of Bill Zito viral water bottle throw following Game 5 loss

28 minutes ago

RFK Jr. fails to qualify for CNN debate, setting up showdown between Biden and Trump

28 minutes ago

Trump to rally in Philly as polls show former prez leading Biden in critical Pennsylvania: ‘We’re all hurting’

28 minutes ago

REVEALED: The £13 Werewolf card game that inspired England's Euro celebrations: 'If you like traitors buy this!

28 minutes ago

King Charles and Queen Camilla arrive side by side at Ascot as Zara and Sophie pull out the stops for Ladies Day

28 minutes ago

Video: Caitlin Clark at the center of WNBA foul controversy AGAIN as fans slam 'joke' officials over call in Fever win

28 minutes ago

Video: Welcome to the Zombie Zone, England fans: Supporters must walk through Frankfurt red light district full of aggressive crack addicts, prostitutes and petty criminals on way to tonight's match

28 minutes ago

A 'history-changing' discovery: 3,000-year-old ship containing wine jugs found 55 miles off the Israeli coast by underwater robots shows ancient seafarers were more daring than previously thought

28 minutes ago

British couple who ran £4m crime gang selling fake Xanax pills around the world from their luxury Thai villa face jail

35 minutes ago

How golf at the 2024 Olympics is different than PGA and LIV formats

35 minutes ago

X boss Elon Musk tempers comments about advertisers as he looks to woo them back

35 minutes ago

Letizia of Spain puts on an animated show of support for husband King Felipe at exhibition marking 10 years of his reign - after claims she had an 'affair' rocked the monarchy