Theatre review: Romeo and Juliet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Wales Millennium Centre
Jul 9 2010 by Mike Smith, Western Mail
THIS is the sort of evening Wales Millennium Centre was built for: glorious dance that engulfs the whole stage sweeping along on wave after wave of exquisite music.
No-one will mind that the production is ultra-classic and the sets, while at times lavish and detailed, happily make no attempt to make any comment of their own on the greatest love story.
Rather, Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet here performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet is a celebration of the beauty, grace and emotion of these fine dancers, with lots of charm and humour.
Right from the start the evening creates the feel that this is a story of testosterone with posturing lads and an innocent, emotionally and sexually awakening girl.
There is nothing particularly new about having the lovers’ bed centre stage to be replaced by the death-scene pyre, but the device always works, poignantly making that link between first love and death.
I adored the tableau of a Renaissance painting of courtiers, flanked by dancers in similar poses on the balcony with the formal dancing below. It added to the Dance of the Knights being ravishing.
With a large ensemble of dancers, the choreography was first class with intricate fight scenes, for example, with sword clashing becoming part of the music.
Ambra Vallo danced a doll-like Juliet, melting into womanhood and the arms of Romeo who was danced with elegance by César Morales. Their pas de deux were poignant and emotionally charged while Vallo’s dancing en pointe was breathtaking.
Mathias Dingman danced Romeo’s pal Mercutio splendidly and what a death scene, as over the top as anyone could wish for, while Robert Gravenor’s Tybalt had real presence and authority.
Glorious lighting from John B Read contributed to some memorable scenes that brought real freshness to even that balcony scene. But a little less scenery yo-yoing would have been good.
It is hard to fail with Prokofiev’s music, grand and powerful, gentle and romantic, but always with the chill of menace.
FROM THE SOUTH WALES ARGUS
Romeo and Juliet, Wales Millennium Centre
11:48am Friday 9th July 2010
THE best-known love story of all time brought tragedy, emotion and a sprinkling of humour to Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre.
Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet, which is celebrating its 20th year, was performed spectacularly to Prokofiev’s music.
The evening began with a fight scene illustrating the rivalry and tension between the Montagues and Capulets, which was performed through a series of graceful sword fights between pairs of characters – adding percussion to the music.
Ambra Vallo, playing Juliet, danced with a vulnerable innocence, at times bringing out her character’s immaturity and headstrong nature.
Romeo, danced by César Morales, brought out the emotion of finding his lover, presumably dead, by dancing with her corpse, and his enemy, Tybalt, danced by Robert Gravenor, oozed authority and grace.
Mathias Dingman, playing Romeo’s friend Mercutio, brought humour to the production during his tomfoolery at the spectacular masked ball and a mixture of emotions through his over-the-top death.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and the only element of the production worthy of fault was that there were overly-long breaks between some scenes, as scenery was changed.