Home » Reviews » Off West End » Killing Romeo, Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Killing Romeo, Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Written and directed by Jazz Martinez-Gamboa

★★★★
Pros: The plot stays with you; I love a play that doesn’t leave you alone and forces you to relive the experience. I still come up with new thoughts even a few days after seeing it.
Cons: If you lose concentration for even a second the plot might be completely lost to you. It’s filled with subtleties that act as brush strokes to create a powerful picture.
Our Verdict: I loved it. If you like intricate plots, characters with secrets and layers of complexion, and being left with a sense of doubt about your initial judgment, then don’t miss it.
Credit: Paul Wood
The stage lights up, the walls are painted a dark colour and everything is completely bare except for a bed. The covers are almost neon white, creating a sharp contrast with the surroundings that quickly draws your attention. There are two people rehearsing Romeo and Juliet. A man is playing dead and the girl has to find a way to bring out a reaction but cannot take the situation seriously. They are working on Romeo’s death scene – Romeo has died and Juliet has awakened to find her love lying next to her, never to wake up again. They want to capture Juliet’s desperate attempts to revive him but he clearly doesn’t seem satisfied with her performance and she starts to get irritated by his criticism. They carry on with the rehearsal and switch scenes. Now Juliet is dead and he ends his life to be reunited in death. They are still not happy with their work.
As an audience member you expect to see the process of transformation in these two people into the classic lovers through the rehearsal scenes, and yet you could not be more deceived. This is a mirror version of the original for the more complex characters we as human beings are. You see how she (the actor) truly wants to be Juliet and feel his (the actor’s) love through Romeo’s words. The only problem is that he is incapable of loving her; he cannot give his character the one thing which will make those words real.
The whole play is a mixture of raw feelings that simply grab you: pride, anger, obsession. They lose control of one another during the performance and try to make peace through the love scenes of their characters only to have the illusion broken by reality. She loves him and he harshly retreats from her advances until he finally gives in, with disastrous consequences. Juliet finally has her Romeo and is not ready to give him up. You learn she was never ready to give him up. He has a story with another woman which haunts him – it makes him incapable of fully becoming Romeo. The last moments are so incredibly powerful; she finally has what she has always wanted but, just like Juliet, must give it up: her Romeo doesn’t want her.
It ends with utter chaos on stage and, in symmetry with Shakespeare’s plot, a dagger. The play toys with your emotions and perceptions and there’s wonderful acting from Alex Marx and Antoinette Alexandrou. Even the lighting is subject to the desperate moments presented in the play: it is dimmed as Alexandrou retreats to a dark place of solitude whenever her Romeo hurts her. They succeed in building up the tension until everything explodes and unravels in a puzzling ending. It leaves you shaken and wondering, wanting to go back again and again to make sense of it.
Shakespeare would be proud. In his endings, he was only happy when the conclusion did not fall according to what the audience has learned to expect. Killing Romeo brings you in, covers you in an intricate web and shakes your intuition. Nothing is as it seems.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Killing Romeo runs at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 8th June 2013.
Box Office: 0844 477 1000 or book online at .

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  • This play is about the fact the female protagonist is a crazy bitch. This is a very real portayal of this kind of character in real life which is impressive. LOVED the ending. Totally. Loved the black and white colour choices. Could have done with a few more comedic points to break the tension. Intense and verging on too serious but impressively sustained and good length of play. Perhaps needs higher quality boxers which aren’t so see through….