Review: Romeo & Juliet

Simon Hale is smitten with BRB’s latest production of the famous love story.

With its rich costumes and sets, dramatic scenes of love and death, and sumptuous classical score, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Romeo & Juliet is a feast for the senses.

Like a Renaissance tapestry that has come to life, onlookers in recessed galleries share the audience’s view of a square in Verona where rival noble families are all too ready to draw swords.

The attention to detail provided by designer Paul Andrews ensured that all 50 or so dancers and actors representing the entire community were vividly drawn, while their all-round physical strength and conviction paid full homage to the wonderful Kenneth MacMillan choreography.

There were compelling performances from Rory Mackay as a thuggish Tybalt and Tzu-Chao Chou as a reckless Mercutio whose gruesome death in a thrilling sword fight at the hands of the former brought an audible groan from the first-night audience.

Ruth Brill brought a refreshingly youthful playfulness to the role of the Nurse and her flustering over the delivery of a letter provided a highly comic moment in this great Shakespearean tragedy.

It was the title protagonists, however that, stole the show, with Céline Gittens dancing a beautifully expressive Juliet, deftly demonstrating the transition from naïve teenager to passionate woman.Brandon Lawrence danced Romeo with technical and emotional aplomb, his movements in the famous balcony seeming to emanate naturally from mutual love.

A near full audience was also treated to a marvellous upbeat rendition of the Prokofiev score by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under Koen Kessels. This is a production not to be missed.

Romeo & Juliet is in performance at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, June 30th.