Romeo and Juliet, Garrick Theatre

Culture Whisper, May 2016
Thanks, Renie

Swapping fairytales for Shakespeare, Lily James and Richard Madden will be star-crossed lovers and Derek Jacobi will be Mercutio in Kenneth Branagh's 'Romeo and Juliet'.

Lily James and Richard Madden's happy Hollywood ending will take a tragic turn as they take on Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers in spring 2016 -- directed once again by Kenneth Branagh as part of his theatre season, Plays at the Garrick. And they will be joined by another star from 'Cinderella': Dereck Jacobi.

While Branagh's film version of 'Cinderella' met mixed reviews, there was no denying the sparks between Madden and James, so we're excited to see how they take the love at first sight intensity and re-figure it with Shakespeare's script.

'Romeo and Juliet': London Theatre 2016
One of the most performed and adapted of Shakespeare's plays, 'Romeo and Juliet' offers much scope for interpretation, shown most famously by Baz Luhrmann's film version, which made Shakespeare's script edgy and accessible.

Details about Kenneth Branagh's take on the tragedy are sparse, but with a pair of hot young actors on the playbill it's bound to be popular.

Sir Derek Jacobi: Mercutio
While Derek Jacobi's acting successes span stage and screen, it's playing Shakespeare on stage that won him two Oliviers. Enthusing about Jacobi, Branagh says "to see him in Shakespeare is an event in itself." . Usually Mercutio, the jesting but turbulent friend, whose death triggers the switch from tragedy to comedy, is cast as Romeo's contemporary, so we are interesting to see how the age difference between Jacobi and Madden affects the dynamic.

Lily James: Juliet
After impressing as the feisty Lady Rose in 'Downton Abbey', Lily James shot to fame with a starring role in Kenneth Branagh's new film of 'Cinderella' - where she and co-star Richard Madden obviously impressed the director. Now was the new face of Burberry, she's hot property.

James cut her teeth on stage with roles including Desdemona at the Sheffield Crucible and Taylor in 'Vernon God Little' at the Young Vic. This hotly-anticipated return to the stage is sure to make Lily James the talk of the town.

Richard Madden: Romeo
Having worked as an actor since the tender age of 11, Richard Madden became a household name after playing Robb Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones and was then put firmly in the spotlight with the role of Prince Kit, a 21st century Prince Charming in Branagh's Cinderella

Playing Romeo on stage is familiar territory for Madden: his first job after drama school was the starring role in The Globe's 2007 tour of 'Romeo and Juliet', which was praised by The Stage as 'gravelly Glaswegian, and almost childlike'. We're curious to see how Madden tackles the role now, after almost ten years. No doubt fans will be hoping for a combination of Robb Stark ruggedness and a Prince's charm.

'Romeo and Juliet': Kenneth Branagh directs
"I made my directing debut in Shakespeare. It was, alas, not-very-good production of 'Romeo and Juliet'; but, it had great heart and great intention." Branagh once said in an interview, so it's poignant that now, at the peak of his career, Branagh is returning to 'Romeo and Juliet', and bringing the talented creatives from his new theatre company with him.

Back to Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company page | Back to Articles Listing | Back to the Compendium