David Leveaux has directed a version of 'Romeo & Juliet' set amongst bikers and thugs for a new Broadway show, but not everyone is impressed with the outcome
It is a love story that is known throughout the world, one that has stood the test of time and now, one that is back on Broadway in a show that isn't exactly like the 1996 Baz Luhrmann film, but has definitely borrowed heavily from the 90's re-imagining of Shakespeare's classic tale of tragic love, Romeo & Juliet. The Orlando Bloom & Condola Rashad-starring, David Leveaux-directed Broadway production opened at the Richard Rodgers Theater on Thursday, 19 September, night and on this fateful night, not everyone was particularly blown away by what they saw (again, just like the Leo DiCaprio film).
Bloom and Rashad in a press shoot for the production
At 36-years-old, Bloom was never going to give off the an aura of teenage angst and lust, and at only ten years his junior, Rashad was going to struggle too, and here was the first fault with the new Broadway production. Both of the main actors were on fine form throughout the night, as many of the critics on the night have agreed, and the same can be said for the talented Condola, but all the acting chops in the world can't substitute a lack of on-stage chemistry between the two lovers. Romeo and Juliet's love is supposed to immediate, their feeling instantly recognisable to the character and audience the moment they set their eyes on each other, but with Thursday's performance that chemistry was nowhere to be found. It was as vacant as Bloom's lost teenage years.
"The chemistry is less erotic than aesthetic," Ben Brantley of the New York Times explained. He went on to explain that, through no fault of the otherwise impeccable actors, that after a near-perfect first half, only hampered by Bloom's "cumbersome and embarrassing" entrance via a motorbike, the second half of the play becomes haphazard and rushed. He continues, "Cut to a fast 2 hours and 20 minutes, this version may well leave you glowing and misty-eyed at the conclusion of its first half, which ends shortly after a genuinely luminous balcony scene. But the tragic events that follow pass in such an anticlimactic blur that when our hero and heroine finally off themselves, it’s hard to feel bereft."
The stars have been praised, somewhat, for their performances
Once again, in the Wall Street Journal critique of the play by Terry Teachout, it is Leveaux and his script-writers who are at fault again, rendering the play almost unwatchable at times. Commenting on the glaring obviousness of their age, as well as the fact that neither Bloom nor Rashad have acted in a Shakespearean production before (and it tells), Teachout gives passing compliments to both the actors, but seems overall unimpressed by both portrayals. Severely unimpressed, the critic summed the play up as having "little to offer but clichés."
"Orlando Bloom's Broadway debut is a success in a flawed production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet," says Tom Wicker of The Telegraph, in a slightly more positive review. One thing that really seems to grate the critics it seems, is Bloom's rockstar entrance. The painfully unconvincing chemistry between the two is another major stumbling block that each critic seems to struggle with too. As Wicker explains in his appraisal of the production, "Bloom and Rashad are sweet together but their relationship lacks the spark that would make the tragedy of their situation really blaze."
Maybe stick to watching the movie rather than heading out for a show