Entertainment & Arts

Orlando Bloom makes his Broadway debut as Romeo

Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad
Image caption Bloom and Rashad's chemistry divided opinion among critics

Lord of the Rings star Orlando Bloom has been praised for "a first-rate Broadway debut" in Romeo and Juliet, but the production itself has received mixed reviews.

The modern take on Shakespeare's play "packs Hollywood star power but lacks emotional fireworks" according to New York Daily News.

Broadway World's Michael Dale called the staging "soggy" and "gimmicky".

Bloom stars opposite "gifted" rising Broadway star Condola Rashad as Juliet.

The pair are "sweet together" according to Tom Wicker writing in The Daily Telegraph, who continued: "But their relationship lacks the spark that would make the tragedy of their situation really blaze".

He said director David Leveaux's production "has its flaws" but was still an "enjoyable, energetic romp through Shakespeare".

Many critics commented that Bloom, 36, should be "too old" to play Romeo, however most admitted he had pulled it off.

"His boyish prettiness serves the role well, and his early classical training is evident in the ease and conviction he brings to the language," wrote David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter.

He likened the poster shot for the production to a perfume advertisement, but continued: "The dreamy intoxication that such a heady fragrance might transmit is largely missing from David Leveaux's snoozy modern-dress production, along with poetry and heat."

He added: "When the lovers die, it's sad, not shattering."

Ben Brantley in The New York Times was not the only critic to pick up on Bloom's "cumbersome and embarrassing" entrance, "Leader-of-the-pack style, on a motorcycle, his jeans fashionably torn at the knees".

However he praised Bloom and felt Rashad exuded "a too-fine-for-this-world purity that makes their characters' love feel sacred".

The amount of chemistry between the two leads divided critics.

Image caption Director David Leveaux, seen here with Rashad and Bloom, has been nominated for five Tony Awards

Robert Kahn from NBC New York wrote that they offered "plenty of heat".

"There is chemistry here, though for me it seemed to peak early on, when Bloom seduces Rashad with a kiss that lasted long enough for one nearby audience member to invoke Austin Powers: 'Yeaahhhhh, baby.'"

Writing in Time Out NY, however, David Cote disagreed: "Chemistry is what you look for in the title pairing, and that's noticeably lacking here."

But he was impressed with Bloom's "hipster" take on Romeo, writing: "It's safe to say that Bloom's swaggering, matinee-idol Romeo will be the most engaging you'll see in years. But this is also the least erotically charged or sexually frank Romeo and Juliet I've ever attended."

Many criticised the modern touches from five-time Tony Award nominee Leveaux, as well as the cuts he made to cut the production down to two-and-a-half hours.

"Real damage is done, though, in the balcony scenes," wrote Marilyn Stasio in Variety.

"The traditional Juliet balcony is replaced by a rough wooden platform that resembles a gangplank. To their great credit, Bloom and Rashad stay focused and manage to convince us that the young lovers only have eyes for each other."

Stasio continued: "The ones who really suffer from this strange resistance to Shakespeare's lyricism are Bloom and Rashad, who do good work when they're not hanging from a scaffold or scaling a wall, and deserve a better chance."

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