Richard Lutz takes his pew for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of a timeless story.
It’s Shakespeare without words. Which sometimes feels like a Van Gogh without colour or an orchestra without music.
But the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of that permanent classic Romeo and Juliet at the Birmingham Hippodrome gets around the thorny problem of telling a story with movement alone.
Its stars, Iain Mackay and Jenna Roberts, do portray young love and anguished heartbreak through dance. The latter’s Juliet is notably eye-catching. At first her young girl is playfully innocent,mocking her nurse, guilelessly playing with a doll, dancing for no other reason than that she is a young girl. She matures, almost in front of your eye, into a graceful elegant young woman, able to shoulder the weight of overpowering love and the drama and tragedy of losing her Romeo. It is a memorable performance.
The Prokofiev music, swirling and swelling at times, is ably complemented by the whole entourage. There is never a dull moment in this full-on three hour production with choreography by Kenneth MacMillan. And five star awards to big time fight scenes and duals which go on for huge swathes of time to summon up an era when romance and violence were two sides of a coin.
Tyrone Singleon’s Tybalt looms large with his muscular combination of dance and swordsmanship. He is cocky, tough, quick-tempered. And, I have to say, Mercurio’s death scene – thanks to dancer Mathias Dingman – has got to be one of the longest I have experienced outwith hammy comedy. Boy, that dancer can die on stage.
Set design by Paul Andrews summons up the Renaissance age. His trompe d’ceil ceilings are a beauty to behold as he creates medieval worlds with chambers, castle gates, deep perspective and formal draped halls. Costumes are all silk, velvet, brocade and impressively flowing robes.
But above all applause for Jenna Roberts’ Juliet. Hers is an hypnotising mix of elegance and movement
Until 27th February. Tickets: 0844 3385000