SHAKESPEARE’S adored love story Romeo and Juliet has been brought to the Lowry by the Birmingham Royal Ballet for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Quays News entertainment reporter Isobel Hine was there for us…

Kenneth MacMillan’s adaptation portrayed the beloved story through the medium of dance stunningly.

Sergei Prokofiev’s composition was intricate and heightened the emotion of the love story. The music was played by the orchestra before the ballet even began, and the rich string instruments brought the audience to a stunned silence before the dancers even graced the Lowry stage.

The opening scene of ‘The Market Place’ brought the story alive with the sworn enemies the Montagues and the Capulets portraying their hatred for each other through remarkable dance and sword fighting. Incredible skill was introduced right from the beginning and continued throughout the duration of the production.

Momoko Hirata captured the innocence of young Juliet effortlessly; her shy nature shone as she pranced about the stage. The character of Juliet’s nurse, played by Ruth Brill was hysterically funny, her expressions and over the top body movements created comic relief perfectly.

Romeo and Juliet 3Joseph Caley who played Romeo was recognisable from the start. You could see he was mischievous with his friends, but also had an air of intelligence as he danced about the stage. The performances by Mercutio (James Barton) and Benvolio (Jonathan Caguioa) were spectacular. The combination of technical ability and comedy was perfect. During the scene when Romeo is entranced by Juliet, Mercutio attempts to distract attention by dancing. His strength and ability was unbelievable and the amount of spins he was capable of was astonishing.

Crowds filled the stage during the ballroom scenes and these group numbers filled the venue with a joyous atmosphere. The chorus numbers were danced in such detail and synchronisation. Each cast member created a character and nobody seemed out of place. The combination of costumes, makeup and the gorgeous scenery transported Salford to Verona.

The famous star-crossed lovers’ scene at Juliet’s balcony was performed immaculately. The way the pair danced together really conveyed their lust and need for one another. The breath-taking lifts were superhuman as Juliet floated about the stage like a beautiful bird in flight. When the pair are secretly married, it was impossible to stifle a smile as they danced together excitedly and lovingly.

As this is a lengthy ballet (19.30 until 22.20) I was concerned about how my attention would be held. However, the ballet was so captivating, the first half went by in such a blur, I thought it had only been ten minutes when it had in fact been an hour. There were two intervals which also helped, but the entrancing performance of the cast definitely prevented the show from seeming too long.

Romeo and JulietOne scene which cannot go without mention was Tybalt’s fight with Mercutio and their famous deaths as a result. They fought with passion and strength; it did not matter that there was no speech involved as the music carried all the anger and emotion. Mercutio’s death was heart wrenching. Romeo’s held him despairingly and you could see his anger mount as he stepped up to avenge his friend’s death. Rory Mackay played the evil Tybalt noticeably well. His death was also performed dramatically and intensely.

The heart breaking end of the show was incredible to watch. When Romeo discovered Juliet and thought she was dead, his dance evoked his pain right up until he ended his life. Juliet’s distraught facial expression as she realised Romeo had killed himself was harrowing and the audience erupted into huge applause which lasted even after the curtains had come to a close.

By Isobel Hine

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