Young Critics Review 2019 – Ballet Cymru – “Romeo and Juliet” (by Emily Robson)
Ballet Cymru – Romeo and Juliet
‘Romeo and Juliet’ was performed by Ballet Cymru on a warm night, which was a perfect match for the climate of ‘fair Verona’. Throughout the production , there was an undercurrent of violence reinforced by the music of Prokofiev which included ‘Dance of the Knights’ – more recognisable as the stirring opening to the television series, ‘The Apprentice.’
The action began in an atmosphere of tension with fighting between the Capulets and the Montagues – silver poles clashing like swords. Later, during the masquerade ball, the aggression between the houses escalated with an interlude of tap dance where the performers stomped to the heavy, dramatic beat, hands clapping in the style of Spanish bullfighters cleverly reflecting the hostility felt by the warring parties.
Some comic moments included the mocking of Tybalt by the mischievous Mercutio. During their battle, he yawns and dusts himself off in a self assured manner but ironically this means that he makes mistakes and is stabbed in the process. Another example of comedy is when Paris, overly keen and desperate to win the hand of Juliet, keeps attempting to dance with her during the ball. She repeatedly tries to escape him in spite of her father and mother guiding her back to him.
The characters danced towards their inevitable fate as the ‘starcross’d lovers’ met their deaths at their own hands. Juliet’s inner turmoil was reflected as she moved backwards and forwards along the stage – towards and then away from the phial of poison. Gripping her stomach, Juliet crawls dramatically towards the bed where she lies in a state of unconsciousness. One of the most moving parts of the performance was when Romeo picks up Juliet’s lifeless body from the coffin. Her inability to hold herself means that during Romeo’s lifts she sags and droops like a rag doll. This sharply juxtaposes their previous romantic balcony scene where they danced together with elegance and grace.
The simplicity of the set, props and costumes helped the audience to appreciate this raw, stripped back production of Romeo and Juliet and focus on the exquisite, bewitching dancing. Having been to several Ballet Cymru productions before at the Lichfield Festival, I can say that they always provide an interesting, creative slant on popular tales and I would definitely watch them perform again in the future.
By Emily Robson