Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Romeo and Juliet

Ballet Cymru / Coreo Cymru , Riverfront Theatre Newport , May 3, 2013
Romeo and Juliet by Ballet Cymru / Coreo Cymru Promoting excellence whilst fostering access is a tough challenge.

The 450 school children who attended the dress rehearsal the day before (including all of Pill School) were followed by a near capacity crowd for the opening night of Romeo and Juliet at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport.Their collaboration with Ballet Cymru and the Cardiff based Coreo Cymru has happened before but it can rarely have been so well received.

Artistic Director and proud Newportonian Darius James must be well pleased as he contemplates a long tour of this stimulating and inventive production finishing at Sadler’s Wells in November.

This production is a combination of classical motifs with novel features.
There is a clog dancing tradition in Wales but it can only rarely have found expression in ballet. It worked but only just.The stocking masked faceless cloggers were sinister and might well have been assisting the Police with their enquiries . Their rhythmic drumming was hypnotic but the steps were an uneasy amalgam of the old and the new.There was imminent danger of Riverdance at the Riverfront. The Welsh tradition of clogging emphasised “tricks” such as as snuffing out candles with the clogs and cossack-style leaping. Perhaps the tradition could be revived.

The Orchestra under the leadership of Richard Laing was energetic and supportive but one of the best passages occurs when the are not playing during a clapping dance which is both playful and arresting.

Act 1 is concerned with ancient enmities , blood letting and love at first sight and was played with vigour and drive.

Act 2 is about death and deception .It was beautifully lit and was performed with persuasive conviction.

The players were of a uniformly good standard but credit must go to Emily Pimm Edwards playing Juliet and hence on stage for most of the time; to Daisuke Miura playing Mercutio with Puckian energy and style ; to Lydia Arnoux playing Juliet’s friend in a way which was both demure and feisty, given the right roles she has a bright future and to Sam Bishop playing Tybalt with an elegant menace and athleticism that would make him a welcome addition to the squad at nearby Rodney Parade and for whom the loudest boos (and therefore greatest approbation) was heard at the end.

It is a pity that real swords can no longer be deployed on stage since the masterful fight choreography was undercut by the sound of wood on wood.Would an authentic sound track laid over the action help here?

The Riverfront is a fine and generous venue giving the company a week’s use of the facilities prior to opening night.Their enterprise is also to be admired in borrowing the idea, from an on old Ealing Studios comedy, of boosting ice cream sales by turning up the heating.

This is a fine production and this was a good night for Welsh dance.The audience loved it.

Reviewed by: Brian Roper

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