Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Grand and powerful, gentle and romantic

Romeo and Juliet

Birmingham Royal Ballet , Wales Millennium Centre , July-07-10
Romeo and Juliet by Birmingham Royal Ballet THIS is the sort of evening Wales Millennium Centre was built for: glorious dance that engulfs the whole stage sweeping along on wave after wave of exquisite music in a way no other art form can approach.

No-one will mind that the production is ultra-classic and the sets, while at times lavish and detailed, happily make no attempt to make any comment of their own on the greatest love story.
Rather, Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet here performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet is a celebration of the beauty, grace and emotion of these fine dancers with plenty of charm and humour sprinkled into the evening.

Right from the start the evening creates the feel that this is a story of testosterone with posturing lads and innocent, well at least one, emotionally and sexually awakening girl.

The contrast between the cheeky harlots, the haughty ladies of the rival courts and then our young Juliet is carefully achieved so when she does dance as a spirited child the effect is wonderful.

There is nothing particularly new about having the lovers’ bed being centre stage to be replaced by the death-scene pyre but the device always works, poignantly making that link between first love and inevitable death.

I adored the tableau where we had a Renaissance painting of courtiers, flanked by dancers in similar poses on the balcony with the formal dancing below. It added to the famous Dance of the Knights being ravishing.

With a large ensemble of dancers the choreography was first class with intricate fight scenes, for example, with sword clashing becoming part of the music.

Ambra Vallo danced a doll-like Juliet, melting into womanhood and the arms of Romeo who was danced with elegance by César Morales. Their pas de deux were poignant and emotionally charged while Ambra’s dancing en pointe in pivotal scenes was breathtaking.

Mathias Dingman danced Romeo’s sprightly pal Mercutio splendidly and what a death scene, as over the top as anyone could wish for, while Robert Gravenor’s Tybalt had real presence and authority.

Glorious lighting from John B. Read contributed to some memorable scenes that brought real freshness to even that hackneyed balcony scene. However, a little less scenery yo-yoing up and down would have been good.

It is hard to fail with Prokofiev’s glorious music, grand and powerful, gentle and romantic, but always with the chill of menace and fatality in the notes.

Reviewed by: Mike Smith

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