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Published date: July 7, 2019
Last modified: July 8, 2019

Young Critics Review 2019 – Ballet Cymru “Romeo and Juliet” (by Hannah Vernon)

“For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” – Ballet Cymru, Romeo and Juliet< review

Having experienced difficulty in completing recent mundane tasks, I was hoping to see something magically inspiring.

Ballet Cymru delivered.

Studying Shakespeare’s star-cross’d tragedy Romeo and Juliet at GCSE made me familiar with the text, but this adaptation was powerful enough to breathe new life and beauty into a revered classic.

Initially I was uncertain as to which dancer portrayed Romeo, almost unsettling as I began to consider whether one who was not acquainted with the plot intricacies would be able to truly understand the story. However, as the opening scene continued, punctuated with the crossing of blade props in a duet of sword-fighting to evoke the theme of familial tensions, I found myself truly transported to a detailed modern interpretation of Verona.
The dancers, particularly Battaggia and Meadway as the doomed lovers, were believable in their devotion, adding depth to the adaptation, whilst their balcony duet was beautifully crafted to convey the transparent magic of a love that knows no bounds. The pinnacle of this was at the conclusion of the second act, where Romeo danced with his comatose bride, heart-wrenching in its choreography as the audience truly believed their passion, and why it drove them to their untimely fates. This was harrowing in its poignancy as Juliet died, reaching in the final touching moments for her fallen lover who she would never hold again.

In stark contrast to this tear-inducing emphasis on their separation, the crowning moment of the production has to be awarded to the return of Huw “Clogs” to Ballet Cymru, powerful as it captured the aggression of Moorcroft’s Tybalt and underlined the darker undertones of the play. I found the unique Welsh version of the Dance of the Knlghts to be a true encapsulation of the feud underpinning the play as illustrated by the swordplay duets and the dancers wearing masks to obscure their identity. This was because it evoked the universal appeal of the play and proved an asset to Ballet Cymru’s ability to adapt an iconic text with still powerful moments, bringing new life to characters that once were just names in a book.

Thanks to Ballet Cymru and their adaptation, I saw aggression and beauty played out in choreographed harmony at Abbots Bromley school, and significantly, a magic that made me wonder whether I to quote Shakespeare, “saw true beauty till this night.”

By Hannah Vernon (age 17)