Matthew Bourne’s latest ballet, Romeo + Juliet with music by Sergei Prokofieff (or Prokofiev) is a unique take on the love story and is set in the Verona Institute at a time shortly in the future. This setting is deliberately undefined but it could be a borstal, a prison, a school or even somewhere connected to mental health. Certainly it is a place where an excess of feeling is frowned upon. A place were love is forbidden. It is populated with a mass of young people with masses of feeling but no proper outlet for them.
Bourne wanted the ballet to be about youth and danced by the young. At each venue the New Adventures company are joined by six local trained dancers to make up the Romeo + Juliet company and to offer the young dancers invaluable experience of working with a professional company.
Through his rehearsal process Matthew Bourne revised the ballet many times and is quoted as saying “I don’t feel reverential towards Shakespeare because we’re not doing Shakespeare. We are not using words – we’re in a different medium. So I really don’t feel tied to them. I feel like I want to represent Prokofieff more than Shakespeare, that’s my script.” Having got approval to re-work the Prokofieff score the music has been edited and re-orchestrated by Olivier Award winning Orchestrator Terry Davis for a live music ensemble of fifteen. Within the six place Young Associate scheme at New Adventures, Etta Murfitt has been working alongside Bourne as associate artistic director as well as Arielle Smith as Young Associate Choreographer.
Matthew Bourne’s take on Romeo + Juliet is truly exciting from beguiling beginning to tragic end. It is gripping, athletically muscular, chock full of emotion, beautifully danced, dangerous and replete with the completely unexpected. Often-times in the viewing one finds oneself fleetingly wondering how the classic scenes are going to be done only to be creatively outdone by Bourne’s genius vision and re-working of the story.
The ballet is stunningly danced by the whole twenty three cast company and Paris Fitzpatrick’s vulnerable Romeo is sympathetically executed with romantic fervour and genuine passion with Cordelia Braithwaite’s genuinely heart-breaking Juliet making you feel much more compassion towards her plight then one might in the Shakespeare play. No spoilers as to why in this review.
Even though he is the out and out baddie in the piece we love Dan Wright’s chanceful, bullying and brutal Tybalt. His character is one you definitely wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley never mind in the confines of Lez Brotherston’s clinical prison like set. His sleek panther like controlling mannerisms and movement are an unforgettable tour de force in this ballet. Reece Causton’s likeable Mercutio dances to perfection and is complimented well by Jackson Fisch as Balthasar and Harrison Dowzell’s Benvolio. Daisy May Kemp brings some light humour into the piece as Rev. Bernadette Laurence and triples up as Brie Montague and Nurse.
Highly recommended night out for yet another of Sir Matthew Bourne’s re-inventions of what we think are familiar tales. Romeo + Juliet is genuinely moving and soul stirring stuff both from the drama of the ballet and the re-worked music of Sergei Prokofieff. Or Prokofiev even.
Tour details HERE.
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