REVIEW: Romeo & Juliet, Richard Rodgers Theater

David Leveaux’s 2013 production is too frantic and chaotic – despite the endearing performances from the two leads.

Having run for 93 performances back in 2013, director David Leveaux’s frantically passionate production feels as though it has too many different ideas that collide with each other to effectively bring this story to life.

This can automatically be seen through the conflicting set design by Jesse Poleshuck which seems to suggest a mixture of a traditional production with hints of contemporary that seems to pull the story in two different ways, despite the strong efforts of the cast to keep the story on track. It is difficult to see for example why the characters need to scale walls or the use of flames that bear no relevance in the times it is used.

In addition, there are other elements that prove a bit of a distraction from Shakespeare’s language, making it difficult to concentrate on what is happening. This includes the somewhat messy fighting between the Montagues and the Capulets looks over the top rather than dramatic and intense.

It would be fair to say that this production is perhaps at its strongest when it keep things simple – particularly in the hauntingly presented final moments of the play in which David Weiner’s lighting beautifully highlights the sorrow, pain and grief of these last minutes.

Thankfully, the central relationship is still beautifully portrayed thanks to Orlando Bloom’s sincere and grounded portrayal of Romeo, while Condola Rashad as Juliet offers a sweet and graceful portrayal. Together, their chemistry is wonderfully natural and enhances the tragedy of the ending beautifully.

Elsewhere, there are strong performances to be found in the form of Jayne Houdyshell’s warm and naturally form portrayal as the nurse, Christian Camargo’s rough round the edges portrayal of Mercutio and Corey Hawkins as the intensely passionate Tybalt.

However, the overall frantic energy of the production means that the beauty and buildup to the story is somewhat lost, particularly with some of the longer speeches. Perhaps the aim was to focus on the intensity of the plot but it sadly comes across as rushed and forced.

It is a real shame, because the performances that are given from all of the cast are completely strong and committed, but it feels as though too many ideas are given life which means the story and language is ultimately lost.

By Emma Clarendon

Romeo & Juliet is available to watch via Broadway HD.

Rating: ⭐⭐

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