In Killing Romeo, the passion of Shakespeare's most tragically romantic play is transplanted by writer and director Jazz Martinez-Gamboa onto two actors who are struggling with the roles of Romeo and Juliet.
As they rehearse late into the night, delving into the motivations and truth of the characters, the actors' own scarred histories subvert the innocence of this pure love story. Eventually, the actors' emotional manipulations of each other end in tragedy, and a blurring of art and reality.
There's a fascinating concept here of actors becoming too caught up in the roles they play, but unfortunately in this production it is not particularly well-realised. The early part of the play contains as many dramatic pauses as it does text, which could have served to build the sexual tension between the couple. Instead, it's just dead air, making for an incredibly slow and stodgy start. It seems to take an age before any fire and passion are injected into the action and, when they do finally arrive, are too little, far too late.
Alex Marx ("Romeo") and Antionette Alexandrou ("Juliet") do have chemistry and Marx lends some depth to the character, although he never quite hits the mark as "Romeo" the jerk scarred by love, which would have added more nuance. Alexandrou's vulnerable and needy "Juliet" is presented for the most part in a flat and too-quiet tone which is both unconvincing and at times virtually inaudible.
The set of one large bed is effective in centering the action on the love story and the sexual element within that story as the actors go over the love and death scenes from Romeo and Juliet. But the early lack of pace is a fatal flaw which scuppers the play. Even running at just 60 minutes, Killing Romeo manages to feel too long.