Romeo and Juliet – Ballet Theatre UK: Kenton Theatre, Henley-on-Thames, England, 27 November 2017

Credit where credit’s Juliet

Ballet Theatre UK's Romeo and Juliet. Bringing ballet to everyone, ninja-style!

Ballet Theatre UK’s Romeo and Juliet. Bringing ballet to everyone, ninja-style!

Quite rightly there’s been a lot of fuss recently about ballet being brought to a country-wide audience through performances of the Royal Ballet, the Bolshoi et al being broadcast in cinemas. There is, however, another way of watching ballet outside of London that’s been happening for years.

Ballet Theatre UK have been performing live on stage from Cardigan to Birmingham to Dorchester and, well, just about everywhere, since 2008. Their new production for 2016 is Christopher Moore’s Romeo and Juliet and, halfway through their tour, they brought it to the Kenton Theatre in Henley-on-Thames.

The country’s fourth smallest working theatre must also be well inside the top five list of the country’s smallest stages so a streamlined production was brought but the storytelling remained clear as daylight.

Erin McNeill made an excellent Juliet. A convincing actress, she brought real depth to the emotional journey of the star-crossed lover (you could only feel sorry for poor old Paris at the way she dissed him right off) and had a delicate lightness to her movement that was lovely to watch. Her Romeo, Oliver Cooper, was an excellent foil and a reassuring partner; between them they conjured up a desperately moving conclusion.

Despite their hectic schedule, the Company looked in fine shape. The supporting cast were solid all round, although Orlando Bond stood out for his merry japery as Mercutio and Grace Carr was a wonderfully expressive Nurse.

Daniel Hope’s costumes are terrific, full of colour and detail, so I can only wonder at how handsome the full production must look. This Romeo and Juliet is completely engaging, very well danced and more than worth the trip to the local theatre.

Ballet Theatre UK’s production of Romeo and Juliet continues until 29 January 2017. Giselle and Alice in Wonderland are also coming up this season – you can find out more about performances on the Ballet Theatre UK website.

Gerard Davis

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