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Everything you need to know about the upcoming Tom Holland 'Romeo & Juliet'

- Jonny Walfisz

Arguably the most famous romance of all time will return to British stages with a star-studded cast. While the thought of a London theatre putting on an adaptation of a Shakespear­e play is hardly riveting news, this is not just any adaptation.

‘Romeo & Juliet’ will play at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre for a limited 12-week run from 11 May to 3 August.

Tickets are currently sold out for the run - more on that later - and media hype is swirling around this upcoming take on the 1597 play by William Shakespear­e has reached a level atypical for such an adaptation.

Here’s everything you need to know.

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Star-crossed lovers

The headline grabber for this ‘Romeo & Juliet’ adaptation is its leading man.

Straight from his incredibly lucrative turn as the friendly neighbourh­ood Spider-Man, British actor Tom Holland is going to test his acting chops on something that requires actual talent.

Holland showed charisma aplenty across the six Marvel Cinematic Universe films in which he played the super-arachnid Peter Parker. However, despite showing a vaguely spunky attitude in the disappoint­ing Uncharted adaptation, Holland hasn’t exactly proven his acting chops.

Where Holland may come in clutch with the role is his boyish looks. In the original play, Romeo is meant to be a teenager, although he is often played as a man in his early 20s. The spontaneit­y and rushed emotional revelation­s of the play make much more sense in the context of a teenage couple falling head over heels for each other, and lack of interiorit­y in Holland’s acting could be quite handy here.

It’s also not the first time Holland will tread the West End’s boards. His first profession­al role was as Michael Caffrey in ‘Billy Elliot the Musical', aged just 12.

The full cast has now been announced for the upcoming West End ‘Romeo & Juliet’ revival. Opposite Holland’s Romeo Montague, Francesca AmewudahRi­vers will play Juliet Capulet.

Next to Holland, AmewudahRi­vers is a relative unknown, having only starred on screen in the British TV show ‘Bad Education’.

However, Amewudah-Rivers is theatre actor, with recent credits including as Lady Macduff in Sarah Frankcom’s version of ‘Macbeth’ for the Globe Theatre in 2022.

The rest of the cast includes Mia Jerome as a gender-swapped Montague, Freema Agyeman (Nurse), Michael Balogun (Friar), Tomiwa Edun (Capulet), Daniel Quinn-Toye (Paris), Ray Sesay (Tybalt), Nima Taleghani (Benvolio) and Joshua-Alexander Williams (Mercutio), Callum Heinrich and Kody Mortimer (Camera Operators).

O Director, Director, wherefore art thou Director?

Anyone familiar with Shakespear­e may have noticed that the last two actors credited, Callum Heinrich and Kody Mortimer, aren’t playing traditiona­l characters. At least, I don’t remember the point the Camera Operators showed up in the original text.

The addition of Camera Operators is a typical flourish of director Jamie Lloyd. While Holland is no doubt a big draw, those in the know are most likely enticed to this production by Lloyd.

As a director, Lloyd is an intriguing character on the theatre scene. The heavily-tattooed 43year-old has made a name for his minimalist adaptation­s of classic texts.

The ability to take playtexts that audiences might be tired of and revitalise them through unique stagings, often with reduced props, unconventi­onal blocking, and modern theatrical flourishes - like, live feeds from cameras being projected around the actors.

He’s similar in style to Belgian director Ivo van Hove, but with a penchant for the classics. Now one of the most respected directors in the West End, he’s also known for putting major Hollywood stars in his leading roles.

Examples of this include a version of ‘ Betrayal’ with Tom Hiddleston, ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ with James McAvoy, ‘ The Seagull’ with Emilia Clarke, ‘A Doll’s House’ with Jessica Chastain, and most recently ‘Sunset Boulevard’ with Nicole Scherzinge­r.

All of these performanc­es have been lavished with awards and nomination­s for both Lloyd and his casts. How the director will make use of Holland, then, remains an enticing prospect.

Tickets, please

Excited yet? Fancy a ticket? Well, as mentioned above, the 12-week run is already completely sold out. Thanks to the star power of Holland and the theatrical intrigue of Llyod, tickets were snapped up pretty quickly.

This is also somewhat the result of the show’s truncated limited run. More and more regularly, West End production­s are throwing big name actors into shows to guarantee public interest. It’s a tried and tested method of selling tickets.

There are two problems though. The first is that Hollywood actors often have busy schedules and want to get back to earning Hollywood money, meaning the runs are shorter than usual.

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The second issue is that, due to the short run and the likely higher-than-average paycheck being made to said Hollywood actor, the few tickets available go for a pretty penny, even when the show is pretty rubbish.

Case in point, people paying nearly £400 (€470) for tickets to the turgid ‘ Plaza Suite’ starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.

Thankfully, Lloyd is a big proponent of affordable theatre.

While the main sale of tickets is now over, closer to the time, a block of 5,000 more tickets will be sold.

Lloyd’s company has earmarked these tickets - which are spread across the whole auditorium - as reserved for under 30s, key workers and people on benefits. Each ticket will be £25 (€30).

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Poster for the upcoming play
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