THE TELEGRAPH.CO.UK – They are the star-crossed young lovers set to ignite the West End with their passion in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s new production of Romeo and Juliet.
And the first glimpse of Lily James and Richard Madden in character suggests it could be something of a steamy affair.
James and Madden, who also starred together in the film version of Cinderella, are to bring Romeo and Juliet to a new generation of fans with a fresh take on the centuries’-old story, under the direction of Sir Kenneth.
The production, due at the Garrick Theatre, London, from May to August next year, will also star 77-year-old Sir Derek Jacobi as Mercutio, one of the most surprising casting decisions in recent memory.
The first picture to be released of the show reveals James and Madden in an intimate clinch, suggesting the 2016 version will not shy away from the more passionate elements of the storyline.
While its modern look is a far cry from the bodices of traditional Shakespeare productions, it is understood the production will stick closely to the Bard’s original script and plot.
James, best known for her role as Lady Rose in Downton Abbey, is seen gripping her co-star’s open shirt as they get into character as Montague and Capulet.
The show is to be broadcast live in cinemas in the UK and abroad on July 7, the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company has announced.
The company’s current production, The Winter’s Tale starring Sir Kenneth and Dame Judi Dench, will be broadcast live in more than 1,300 cinemas on November 26, after the theatre show sold out.
Speaking of Romeo and Juliet earlier this month, Sir Kenneth admitted the play has “real challenges”.
He told the Stage: “Of course I by no means felt I had cracked it 30 years ago, when it was the first Shakespeare I directed. I wanted to go back to that play again, and when you work with people you realise have the appetite and the ability to play the parts, like Lily James and Richard Madden, and those talents are ready to go to work with a play that you feel contains unfinished business, that becomes very enticing. We all spent a couple of years on Cinderella, from the casting to filming and then playing it through the distribution and press tour to promote the film. So you get to know each other, and to have those longer conversations about what you’d like to do together.” (source)