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18 July 2015 @ 06:39 pm
noooo why  
So Branagh is doing Romeo and Juliet and The Winter's Tale at the Garrick Theatre in London, alongside Terrence Rattigan's Harlequinade, which is apparently a play about a company that tries to put on Romeo and Juliet and The Winter's Tale. I like the idea of this grouping, and a lot of the casting sounds really amazing (Dame Judi Dench as Paulina! Michael Pennington as Antigonus!) or intriguing (Jessie Buckley as Perdita! Her Miranda for the Globe had a lot of potential). But then there's this weird thing:

Reuniting the stars of his celebrated film of Cinderella, Kenneth Branagh directs Richard Madden and Lily James as Romeo and Juliet and Derek Jacobi as Mercutio, in Shakespeareʼs heartbreaking tale of forbidden love.

I just - no. 1) Mercutio is not an elderly man; that's just creepy and weird. (I know productions have done middle-aged Mercutios, but…come on, man, why is this old dude trying to fight Tybalt?) 2) This (casting a way more famous actor) looks like exactly the kind of move people make when they want to make Mercutio more important than the lovers, and I hate that: there isn't another Shakespeare tragedy where people are constantly trying to downplay the presence and importance of the title characters, but of course Romeo and Juliet are just stupid teenagers, and Shakespeare really cared about Mercutio. Double plus ugh. And 3)…I don't actually like Derek Jacobi doing Shakespeare all that much? Of course I respect his talent, and I recognize that this is totally my problem, and probably my bad taste, rather than an objective judgment, but his performances just bounce off of me and leave me cold.

Anyway. I have no particular feelings about Lily James, since I've only seen her in Downton Abbey, or Richard Madden, since I don't watch Game of Thrones (although I liked him in the Birdsong miniseries - but I didn't watch it very carefully). Apparently Richard Madden played Romeo in the Globe's touring production of R&J back in 2007, though - and his Adopt an Actor blog posts are up on the website:


So that could be interesting: it's rare that an actor gets to take a second crack at playing Romeo professionally because he's such a young character. (The same is true of Juliet.) But now I'm all unnecessarily crabby about a production I won't ever get to see (unless perhaps they film it).
La Reine Noire: Austen - Venting Spleenlareinenoire on July 19th, 2015 12:21 am (UTC)
That doesn't make ANY sense--is it maybe a typo and Jacobi is playing Friar Laurence? I might sit here and pin my hopes on that.

(I think Madden could pull off Romeo based on what I've seen--he's got the goofiness and charm, provided of course he can speak the verse--and I'd be curious to see what Lily James brings to Juliet, although it does feel a bit like post-Cinderella stunt casting...)
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on July 19th, 2015 01:06 am (UTC)
I was kind of hoping it's a typo as well! Otherwise I am just dumbfounded.

I wonder if Branagh is trying to build up a new "stable" of actors, because someone else in the cast for The Winter's Tale was (apparently) also in Cinderella as well. He seems to like going back to the same core actors throughout his career, so maybe it's less gimmicky than stunt casting. Fingers crossed, anyway!

Also, I think goofiness and charm are essential to a good Romeo, so that's good to hear!
La Reine Noire: Wimminz!lareinenoire on July 19th, 2015 01:56 am (UTC)
True, Branagh does tend to re-use a lot of the same actors (Richard Briers and Nicholas Farrell both come to mind from his 90s films, not to mention Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Thompson, etc). And it makes a lot of sense that he'd want to put together a younger set, between the Marvel films and the new Cinderella (which was very sweet, if a bit simplistic for my tastes--Ever After is still the one for me).
tempestsarekind: fairy wings [ever after]tempestsarekind on July 19th, 2015 02:01 pm (UTC)
I didn't see Cinderella, mostly because I knew I would be comparing it to Ever After the whole time! Maybe one of these days I'll check it out from the public library or something.
La Reine Noire: Catelareinenoire on July 19th, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC)
All other things aside it is beautifully filmed, and Cate Blanchett is FABULOUS (if somewhat underused) as Cinderella's stepmother. I was a bit frustrated by what I saw as James' passivity when I saw it, but I read several essays afterward that have made me want to rewatch it and pay closer attention.
tempestsarekind: i am my father's daughter [elizabeth]tempestsarekind on July 19th, 2015 05:07 pm (UTC)
It sounds like I'd at least like it - thanks for the comment!
litlover12: Castlelitlover12 on July 19th, 2015 02:52 am (UTC)
Branagh, James, and Madden pulled off a "Cinderella" that felt fresh and traditional all at once, and made the characters deeply appealing without going for flashy edginess. I can see them doing a really good R&J.
tempestsarekind: quite a good arm actuallytempestsarekind on July 19th, 2015 02:02 pm (UTC)
That's certainly promising to hear - that kind of sincerity is hard to do!