Latest Review – Romeo and Juliet [Birmingham Royal Ballet] [The Lowry, Salford Quays] [UK Tour]

[Joseph Caley as Romeo and Momoko Hirata as Juliet. 
Photo by Andrew Ross]


Birmingham Royal Ballet

The Lowry, Salford Quays

Until Saturday 5th March, 2016

When Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s now legendary production of Romeo and Juliet first premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on 9 February 1965 it was said to have brought new life to Prokofiev’s great work, rejuvenating the career of leading lady Margot Fonteyn who began a new partnership with co-star Rudolph Nureyev on the strength of the production, despite being considered near to retirement.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s latest revival of the significantly revised MacMillan production – first performed in 1992 – is as glorious as might be expected and serves as the perfect tribute to the life and work of William Shakespeare in his 400th anniversary year.

Though the Bolshoi high-command considered the work to be ‘impossible to dance to’ when Prokofiev first presented them with his score for a new ballet based on Shakespeare’s great tragedy, Romeo and Juliet has most definitely stood the test of time, and has undoubtedly become one of the most celebrated and beloved works in the ballet canon.

To say the piece contains some of Prokofiev’s most impressive music is quite a bold statement considering his other works include The Love for Three Oranges, Peter and the Wolf, The Gambler and his epic five-act operatic adaptation of War and Peace, however featuring such sublime numbers as the balcony scene pas de deux , the heartbreaking Death of Juliet and the towering Dance of the Knights, it is not difficult to see why this might be considered the case. The Dance of the Knights is of course an incredibly well known and well used piece of music, but there is something about hearing it in the context of the ballet that just increases the sheer power and significance of the piece. Under the baton of conductor Koen Kessels, and leader Robert Gibbs, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia give us a superb performance of Prokofiev’s challenging score.

It instantly becomes clear why principal artists Joseph Caley and Momoko Hirata have been chosen to lead one of a number of potential casts and they truly excel in the central roles of the eponymous, doomed lovers. Caley’s charismatic, passionate Romeo is very nicely played and Hehe demonstrates exceptional levels of skill, control and experience, despite his young age. Hirata’s vulnerable, naive Juliet makes for a very moving and delicate performance, effectively charting the path from childlike innocence to the determined, impassioned woman she becomes and again demonstrating prolific technique and some exquisite pointe work.

Completing the central trio of friends, James Barton and Jonathan Caguioa are an excellent pairing as Mercutio and Benvolio, though they are perhaps more headstrong and fearsome than the mischievous, boyish way we usually see these characters played.

Rory Mackay’s strong, dignified Tybalt is a particular standout, and the numerous, intricately choreographed and incredibly well synchronised sword fights between the warring sides are some of the most entertaining highlights of the production.

Feargus Campbell’s Paris is another standout in the supporting cast, really making the most of his brief time on stage, and Ruth Brill also deserves mention, adding some welcome comedy as Juliet‘s trusty Nurse.

Paul Andrew’s traditional Renaissance set and costume designs still impress with their lavish opulence and rich, evocative hues and tones, with John B. Read’s atmospheric lighting adding further depth to the visuals, particularly during the ballroom scene and the Act IV finale in the Capulet Family Crypt.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is a true feast for the eyes and ears; a superb fusion of exquisite choreography from a large ensemble company, lavish design work and orchestral majesty most definitely not to be missed.


Running Times:

Act I – 60 minutes

Interval [20 minutes]

Act II – 35 minutes

Interval [15 minutes]

Act III – 40 minutes

[Total: 2 hours and 50 minutes, approx.]


Final Performance at The Lowry: Saturday 5th March, 2016.

For more information and to book tickets, please Click Here.


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