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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Critics welcome Bloom stage debut
Orlando Bloom stars in In Celebration
Actor Bloom joins an ensemble cast for his West End debut
Film star Orlando Bloom's stage debut in London's West End has met with a broadly positive response from critics.

Bloom, best known for his role in the blockbuster Hollywood franchise Pirates of the Caribbean, stars in a revival of the David Storey play In Celebration.

The 30-year-old actor plays Steven, a teacher and failed writer, haunted by his abandonment of his Northern roots.

The actor is praised for his "fine sensitivity", but the Daily Express called the debut "disappointing".


The revival of David Storey's 1969 drama exactly doubles the number of straight plays by living British dramatists in the West End. Even then, one assumes it owes its life largely to Orlando Bloom's theatrical debut.

But Storey's tough and sturdy play stands the test of time, and Bloom should guarantee it a young audience.

Three sons travel up to a Yorkshire mining town to celebrate their parents' 40th wedding anniversary, and reveal their degrees of disfigurement.

Through Steven, Storey nails the traumatised rootlessness that comes from feeling one's life has no significance. Bloom lends Steven exactly the right sense of haunted taciturnity and withdrawn moodiness.


The admirable producer Sonia Friedman is clearly determined to keep the flame of "it's grim-up-north", working class drama alive in the West End.

And she doubtless hopes that the presence of Orlando Bloom... will be enough to entice punters into enduring two-and-a-half hours of punishing pessimism.

A brilliantined and moustached Orlando Bloom spends the entire evening looking pale and interesting.

It's not a challenging role, but he remembers his lines and doesn't bump into the furniture.


There are some impressive performances - in particular Paul Hilton as Andrew, the tortured failure who tears back all the pretence of family unity.

But sadly Orlando Bloom, in his London stage debut, is disappointing.

This is not entirely his fault. The part of Steven is too small and lacks the opportunity for spreading any dramatic wings.


Is David Storey alive and kicking?

Anna Mackmin's revival of his second play with the fashionable Orlando Bloom taking the role created by Brian Cox 40 years ago, gives a less literal answer to that question: Storey's work isn't just alive but has a kick capable of separating today's audiences from their emotional teeth.

Bloom is Steven Shaw.... superficially it's an unrewarding part, because he spend most of the time looking wan and saying little... but an important one.


Don't be misled by the title that In Celebration is light-hearted. It is a gloomy northern coalmines affair with a pulverisingly slow, first half.

Good cast here. Tim Healy, familiar from TV's Auf Wiedersehen Pet and Coronation Street... could speak more clearly, but he embodies the dignity and toughness of the north-eastern miner.

Movie pin-up Orlando Bloom shows fine sensitivity with this part.

In Celebration, Duke of York's Theatre, London, until 15 September.

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