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REVIEW | Romeo and Juliet | Birmingham Royal Ballet

Joseph Caley as Romeo and Momoko Hirata as Juliet - photo Andrew Ross

Credit: Andrew Ross

There is something about Birmingham Royal Ballet in which they seem to bring a sense of magic to the stage, every production by the famous ballet company is grand, fine-tuned and nothing less than flawless.

Commemorating the 400th anniversary since Shakespeare’s death, Birmingham Royal Ballet take on the challenging but exquisite Romeo and Juliet, a heartbreaking tale exuding the intensity and intimacy of forbidden love. It is a stunning and encapsulating performance interjected with raw emotion and tragedy.

Prokofiev‘s score is intricately composed to heighten the potency of the emotion in the story. Conducted by Koen Kessels, the power and strength of the orchestra is outstanding as it sent chills down my spine during the thrashing street brawls. Whether it is in the dominance of the ballroom scenes or the passionate duets, Prokofiev captures every single spark of emotion and echoes that in his profound score.

I am always impressed by set designer Paul Andrews‘ ability to create such a visual masterpiece for Birmingham Royal Ballet, and Romeo and Juliet is no exception. Set in Renaissance Verona, the medieval set is timeless and it’s magnificence illustrates the grandeur of the Capulet’s home.

Credit: Andrew Ross

Joseph Caley as Romeo and Momoko Hirata as Juliet – photo Andrew Ross

Sublimely choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan, every scene is entrancing as the dynamic choreography is oozing with passion. The large ballroom scenes are commanding, each movement is formidable and evidently has fervent emotion behind it. Macmillan has created a piece so adventurous yet utterly prepossessing. In particular at the market, in which many characters unfold to create a bustling scene packed full of action, my eyes weren’t constantly focused on the main action due to the strength of the  characterisation in every individual on stage, intriguing me into each character’s story.

Joseph Caley graced the stage as Romeo and he provides a remarkable performance. Not only does he manage to evoke the sense of longing and potent admiration for Juliet, he is charismatic in his dancing as he portrays his confidence and cheeky impertinence giving the character more dimension. His movement itself is beguiling as the placement of every point and landing of every pirouette is impeccable.

Momoko Hirata played the innocent young Juliet who falls utterly in love with Romeo. Hirata is an extraordinary dancer that effortlessly glides across the stage, she is so fragile and every movement radiates beauty. Technically she a phenomenal dancer, but it is her ability to transform from vulnerable to vivacious that sets her apart from other dancers. Her expression is excellent as she presents an abundance of emotion.

Credit: Roy Smiljanic

Credit: Roy Smiljanic

The balcony scene is undeniably the highlight of the production, choreographed so simply yet brimming with infatuation it truly took my breath away. Every arabesque and coupes-jete emphasises the beauty of their absolute infatuation for one another.

Romeo and Juliet is a ballet bursting with sentiment but the finale is inevitably the most poignant. MacMillan has choreographed it flawlessly; I’ve seen other ballet companies dramatically drag out the final scene which loses the aching tenderness that is done masterfully in the Birmingham Royal Ballet production.

I’ve reviewed many superb ballet companies but none quite as polished, precise and exceptionally skilled as Birmingham Royal Ballet. Romeo and Juliet is faultless and every aspect of the production is done tremendously, it is a dramatic and heart-rendering ballet that is mesmerising from start to finish.

Romeo and Juliet is on at The Lowry until the 5th of March and tickets can be found here.

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