Romeo And Juliet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sunderland Empire

(A piece I wrote for my portfolio at Uni, I’ll always have a soft spot for the ballet, and next year I’m going to make more of an effort to see it)

It’s amazing how the things that fascinate you since childhood stay with you for the rest of your life. Upon viewing Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet at the Sunderland Empire theatre, I was instantaneously whisked back to my youth and all the escapism that ballet brought me. Everything from the opulent costumes to the dramatic stage sets helped choreographer Kenneth MacMillan present the viewer an authentic escape to 16th Century Verona for the night.

Principal dancers Elisha Willis and Robert Parker capture the mannerisms and characteristics of these two renowned characters in a story that is known and loved the world over. Willis’ naïve and childlike portrayal of Juliet develops throughout the ballet into the angst-ridden teenager in love we see in the final act.

Whilst we watch the unfolding drama, the fluidity of the movement of all the dancers amazes me. Technically perfect in almost every way, the Birmingham Royal Ballet company seem to be able to do what many other productions fail to do – capture the emotions of the play, from Mercutio’s staggering after his injury to Romeo whisking a motionless Juliet across the stage, failing to comprehend that she is dead.

Focusing not just upon the principal dancers, Tybalt was danced portraying his slightly bitter domineering characteristics, while Mercutio played the fun-loving fool next to the love-struck Romeo. Even the chorus dancers were synchronised to perfection in this possibly flawless interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic.

Romeo and Juliet is a tough story to tackle, but the lack of dialogue makes it so much harder. The use of Prokofiev’s original score highlights each and every moment, from the subtle twinkle of Juliet dancing to the dramatic, brilliantly choreographed sword fights, and keeps the story as fresh and captivating as it was the day it was written. Whilst the two hour and 50 minute running time seems excessive, but when broken down into the three acts the dance was enthralling enough to fly by, much to my disappointment.


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