Theatre in Wales

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Romeo a Juliet

Ballet Cymru , Aberystwyth Arts Centre , December 2, 2013
Romeo a Juliet by Ballet Cymru Sunday evening is an unusual time for the programming of a major piece of touring performance. The reason for Ballet Cymru’s late weekend arrival is the best there might be. The Saturday night has seen the company in London, on the Lilian Baylis stage at Sadlers Wells no less. Whether the audience is aware or not of the company’s lengthy journey west, curtain call receives a rapturous response.

Co-choreographers Amy Doughty and Darius James have blended classicism with moments of striking originality. Emily Pimm Edwards’ Juliet, in lustrous white, dances a tender pas de deux with Daniel Morrison’s Romeo, when they first get to meet alone. But when it comes to the ball scene, with Prokoviev’s most stirring melody “the Dance of the Knights”, the choreography assumes a medley of cultural hints; hoods and masked faces, and rhythmic martial stamping.

It is in tune with the look of Verona fashioned by Georg Meyer-Wiel’s design and costume. The dancers move between and through three curtains of metallic braid. Urban gang ritual and comradeship predominate. Iselin Eie Bowen and Nicolas Capelle, parents of a stern fierceness, are in semi-militarised costume. Sam Bishop makes a snarlingly aggressive tattooed Tybalt. In Chris Illingworth’s lighting design Verona is a shadowy place of menace. Back-projections throw up starkly outlined motifs, a red circle, a chain link fence.

Shakespeare’s nurse has been dropped in favour of a more youthful and dancerly friend. The programme notes puckishly give her the name of Cerys, a nod perhaps to Ballet Cymru’s sometime rock-singer-radio-presenter collaborator. Lydia Arnoux’s is a performance filled with grace, precision and convincing character acting. Daisuke Miura as Mercutio has some early solo movement that elicit an impromptu call from an audience member of “Wonderful!”

Many supporters lie behind Ballet Cymru. Orchestration is by Jon Longstaff and the playing by Sinfonia Cymru. Coreo Cymru is one co-producer. Ballet Cymru is Newport’s only professional performance company. Loyalty to its home city, and the educational programme, has brought support from the Riverfront. Shakespeare gives his character the line that parting is such sweet sorrow; too true.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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