Tom Holland Regrets 'Heinous' London 'Romeo and Juliet': 'Wasted 2.5 Hours'

Tom Holland ventures into Shakespeare with mixed results.

by Nouman Rasool
Tom Holland Regrets 'Heinous' London 'Romeo and Juliet': 'Wasted 2.5 Hours'
© Klára Šimonová/Getty Images

Everyone's favourite boyish actor, Tom Holland, who has recently been the face of Spider-Man, is soon to take on a role that might be a bit less appealing, as he's been cast in the titular slot of a scandalous West End production of Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet." Now, divided audiences and critics are clashing over a production best described as the take of Jamie Lloyd on the play.

In this stripped-down adaptation, Shakespeare's essence feels as elusive as ever, with the play described as a dreary, pretentious affair that could rival an economics lecture in dullness. Despite Holland's undeniable talent and commitment, the production's lack of passion has not gone unnoticed.

His portrayal of Romeo, tinged with a melancholy intensity, seems to blur the lines between Shakespeare's lovestruck youth and the brooding Hamlet, leaving some questioning his interpretation of the character.

Holland's Star Power

The production has, however, benefited from Holland's star power.

Tickets for the three-month run sold out almost entirely before the curtains first lifted, with remaining seats fetching prices as high as $440. Yet, this high admission price offers patrons a less intimate theatre and a more distant spectacle, with live video feeds and stark staging choices detracting from the play's emotional core.

Director Jamie Lloyd's approach—characterized by live video screens, monochromatic wardrobes, and subdued whispers—has been met with mixed reactions. These elements, intended to modernize and energize, often subtract from the emotional and dramatic heft expected of a tragedy as profound as "Romeo & Juliet." Adding to the ambience, the Duke of York Theatre pumps loud club music before the show and during intermission, a choice that has left some patrons more bewildered than bewitched.

One theatre employee remarked on the surprising emotional reactions to the overpowering music: "They've cried!" Despite these bold choices, not all feedback is negative. Holland shares commendable chemistry with Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, who plays Juliet with a refreshing forthrightness.

Moreover, Holland's foundation in theatre, notably his early role in Billy Elliot, shines through his confident grasp of Shakespeare's language. Yet, the overarching sentiment seems to echo a longing for more traditional theatre elements—less technological interference and more genuine storytelling.

As London's theatrical community continues to evolve, Lloyd's "Romeo & Juliet" may stand as a testament to the growing pains of modernizing classic works for contemporary audiences.

Tom Holland