Tom Holland captivates the public more than the critics in Romeo and Juliet

Image source, Marc Brenner

Screenshot, Tom Holland plays Romeo, with Francesca Amewudah-Rivers as Juliet

  • Author, Ian Young
  • Role, Arts and entertainment reporter

The “unprecedented” excitement among fans outside the London theater where Spider-Man star Tom Holland performs in Romeo and Juliet has not been matched by the response from critics inside.

Other critics also struggled to exercise themselves, describing Holland’s Romeo as “good,” “perfectly correct,” and “perfectly plausible.”

Overall, they were most enthusiastic about Francesca Amewudah-Rivers as Juliet, who was described by Andrzej Lukowski of Time Out as “great”.

“It has a lightness that contrasts with the grim anguish of Holland,” he wrote.

Time Out gave the play four stars, saying that director Jamie Lloyd’s minimalist production is “brilliantly haunting” and “presented as a particularly stylish radio play.”

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, Fans have been waiting for Holland outside the theater every night.

Critic Clive Davis, who gave it three stars, said Holland was “calm, cool and sensitive.”

“In the first few scenes, he really convinces you that he’s a teenager adrift, waiting to throw himself into a doomed romance,” he wrote.

But in the end, Lloyd’s production “sometimes seemed overly formulaic” and left audiences “more perplexed than enthralled,” he said.

Arifa Akbar of The Guardian also gave three stars, saying that the two lead stars are “perfectly cast, wired with a strange teenage energy, she a mix of innocence and street steel, him shaking earnestly with sweaty palms.”

“The chemistry is definitely there, even if it feels deliberately restricted in Jamie Lloyd’s turbo-stylized production,” he wrote.

There is “much to admire”, but he concluded that “the deliberate minimization of emotion ultimately strips the game of its tragedy.”

Image source, Marc Brenner

Screenshot, Holland is famous for playing Spider-Man in the Marvel movies.

David Benedict of Variety was not very interested in a production he described as “fiercely minimalist”, in which “the exuberance of love and youth is completely missing.”

The drama and most of the characters are hampered by a slow pace with pauses that break the rhythm and meaning of the script, Benedict said. “The exception to all this is Juliet…

“But Holland lacks his stage stillness. He is perfectly plausible as an increasingly stressed and distraught Romeo in love, but he evokes rather than provokes emotions.”

“Holland enters, a camera follows him from backstage. He is tearful, moody, mumbling. He is a very sad boy in a tight white vest,” Bano wrote.

Images taken by cameras on stage and displayed on a large screen have become a hallmark of Lloyd’s productions, as has what Bano described as “industrial elegance”.

“Or it was fancy the first time Lloyd did it, but now it looks like a vent fetish.”

He added: “If it had ended in the interval, it would have been brilliant. Instead, it becomes a thing of diminishing returns…

“As for the ending, well, it’s a little disappointing. They die, but theatrically: headphones off, eyes closed, sitting at the front of the stage like gorillas taking a nap after a long shift at a warehouse rave” .

Image source, Marc Brenner

Screenshot, The performance has a minimalist staging

He highlighted the “unprecedented scenes outside the Duke of York Theatre, where hundreds of fans crowd behind bars, waiting to catch a glimpse of Holland as he travels from the stage door to his car, waving like royalty.”

“If only the show could match this energy,” he continued, awarding two stars.

“Unfortunately, however, it’s a depressing, lifeless affair that somehow manages to be overblown and underpowered.

“It must be stressed that this is in no way the fault of the actors: neither Holland, who is good, nor Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, who plays Juliet, who is more than good, nor the supporting cast.

“The problem lies firmly in the gimmicky and oppressively severe staging, which always works against all of them.”

Image source, Marc Brenner

Screenshot, Film cameras are used as part of the work.

Deadline’s Baz Bamigboye also described the “memorable” crowds outside to catch a glimpse of Holland and his girlfriend Zendaya.

He was unenthusiastic about the production and the British actor, whom he said was “a perfectly acceptable Jack-the-lad Romeo.” But a friend’s 13-year-old daughter “loved everything.”

“The point is that this is the type of production that will attract a young audience. A new audience,” he concluded.

“They don’t want to sit through the traditional, stuffy productions of the Bard. The theater needs to get young audiences excited now to keep them coming back.

“They want the bright, shiny rawness that Lloyd offers.”

The star power of the London production will rival another Broadway revival that pairs Heartstopper’s Kit Connor with West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler, opening in September.

The New York show, with music by Taylor Swift’s producer Jack Antonoff, released its trailer on Thursday.

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