Romeo and Juliet – Birmingham Royal Ballet: Sadler’s Wells, London, 12 June 2018

Similar but not the same

Romeo, Romeo, now is the splinter of our discontent. You have to hand it to Cesar Morales and Momoko Hirata in BRB’s Romeo and Juliet

This is Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet all right, it just looks different, that’s all. Birmingham Royal Ballet acquired MacMillan’s masterpiece in 1992 but both company and choreographer agreed that new designs would be in order. So out went Nicholas Georgiadis’ creations that are still in use by The Royal Ballet today, and in came new kid on the block Paul Andrews with a lighter approach that has a more intimate feel – Juliet’s bedroom, for example, is not the cavernous black hole of Covent Garden but a more homely, curtain-draped affair. Overall, however, none of it’s a million miles away from Georgiadis.

Regarding the choreography, there are a few odds and sods dotted around that are slightly different as well, but not enough to make any significant impact on what is such a brilliantly told story – it’ll still make you cry. Which is exactly what happened to much of the audience watching César Morales and Momoko Hirata in the title roles.

Morales was an excellent Romeo, both tough and tender, while Hirata physically and emotionally aged from 14 to about 40 in front of our very eyes. They convincingly portrayed a couple in love/lust with each other and Hirata created real tension with her family. Equally, her hopeless, pre-poisoning duet with Feargus Campbell’s beautifully played Paris, was devastating in its despair.

The rest of the Company looked bright with Tzu-Chao Chou standing out as a wonderfully expressive Mercutio. Kit Holder knocked out a good stint as leader of the Mandolin dance but I don’t care how authentic their ticker-tape costumes may be, they looked ridiculous. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia gave a good, dramatic account of Prokofiev’s score, and the show as a whole came together well. A fine night out at the theatre.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet runs at Sadler’s Wells until 13 June 2018. Tickets can be found on the Sadler’s Wells website.

Gerard Davis

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