“They stumble that run fast”
David Leveaux’s production of Romeo and Juliet played Broadway in 2014, the first time the play had been seen there in 36 years and perhaps conscious of needing to go the hard sell to get audiences, employed Hollywood star Orlando Bloom’s services to play Romeo. At 36, one might have though the role a little past him and as he roars onto the stage of the Richard Rodgers theatre on a motorbike, you fear for what might come to pass.
In the end, he’s actually a fairly competent Romeo, as well spoken as you’d expect any Guildhall School of Music and Drama graduate to be, but it is clear that Leveaux doesn’t trust the verse to do the job as he layers distraction upon distraction onto this modern-day version of the play. So David Van Tieghem’s score dominates at the expense of clarity (and perhaps deliberately evoking West Side Story) and actor after actor is encouraged to over-egg the pudding.
Christian Camargo’s Mercutio thus indulges in way too much physical vulgarity which undermines an otherwise intelligently spoken part and Bloom ends up playing to the crowd too much, further undermining a fatal lack of chemistry with Condola Rashād’s Juliet, far too sweetly innocent to convince in this streetwise world. The chopped-up plot lends a certain degree of pace but emotionally, it is dead in the water.