Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet: Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Reviewed 18th September 2019
As always, Matthew Bourne manages to take an age old piece, this time Romeo and Juliet, and create something spectacular, contemporary and fresh. This modern re-imagining of Shakespeare’s classic love story is simply stunning.
Matthew Bourne strips Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet back to its core; a story of forbidden love. The story is told beautifully through the innovative, contemporary choreography. Each performer is more than a dancer; they are a storyteller. Each move is so intricate and precise that together it creates magic. Despite being predominately about two young lovers, the New Adventures‘ production is truly an ensemble piece. With very little time off stage, every single dancer works tirelessly and yet manages to glide around the stage effortlessly.
Paris Fitzpatrick’s Romeo starts out as youthful and naive but changes to become heartbreaking and visibly desperate through the production. His althleticism and talent is undeniable and the clever portrayal of the character throughout is superb. Cordelia Braithwaite is stunning as Juliet. Graceful and passionate, she flies through the air as though weightless. The chemistry between the pair is brilliant to watch and as the tension mounts the relationship between them increases further. The entire cast are spectacular to watch. As always with Matthew Bourne’s work it is fantastic to see a young diverse mix of performers and to have same-sex couples onstage. His work always strays away from the traditional and yet is not ‘in your face’. The production is not trying to confront stereotypes or prejudices it is just so inclusive that the use of same-sex couples is just normal – the same as it should be in society.
This production also features young performers from the different areas that it travels to. Such an important and inspiring initiative from which hopefully many shows will take inspiration from. Due to this the performers will change slightly between venues making for a fresh performance each time. The entire young cast, many of whom are still in training or are recent graduates are excellent but Sharol Mackenzie, Danny Collins, Monique Jonas and Jackson Fisch all stand out for their complete commitment to the character. Chosen to perform at the Marlowe venue, Eleanor McGrath is excellent to watch. Not due to her young age but because of her dedication to character and the tremendous talent she displayed. If this is the future of dance then audiences will certainly not be disappointed.
Prokofiev’s score is played beautifully by the stunning New Adventures Orchestra. The new orchestrations by Terry Davies modernises the familiar score and brings new life to it. It is brilliant to hear such magical music played live and for those sitting in the circle there is an added treat of being able to see into the orchestra pit.
Lez Brotherston’s clever set is perfect to create the stark, bare Verona Institute. The split level set surrounded by high metal chained walls sets the scene perfectly. Lighting by Paule Constable further adds to the production, particularly by creating shadows and adding to the tension of the final scenes.
This may not be your traditional ballet version of Romeo and Juliet – instead audiences are treated to something innovative, inspired and invigorating. Whether you are a fan of dance or not this New Adventures production is spellbinding and performed so effortlessly that the two hours fly by. Definitely make this show a priority to see!
Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet plays at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until the 21st September 2019. For tickets and information click here. It then continues to tour the UK until the 12th October 2019. For tour venues and tickets click here. Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet will also be screened in cinemas from the 22nd October 2019 – for information check out their official website.
Photo Credit: Johan Persson