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Reviewed: Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet at Curve

Romeo and Juliet, but not as you know it.

Romeo and Juliet stand together under the light of the disco ball
Paris Fitzpatrick and Cordelia Braithwaite. Image by Johan Persson

I love a ballet and was very much looking forward to seeing the fabulous Matthew Bourne OBE's Romeo and Juliet at Curve.


This is a very different interpretation of the original Shakespeare play, but the story of young love fighting against the established order of the older generation is still prevalent.


The setting is a stark white tiled Verona Institute with viewing balcony and bars a lot like a prison, which is purposely open to interpretation. Is it a prison? Is it a hospital? or is it a facility for troubled young people who may have mental health issue?


Romeo marches and lifts one leg towards his bed. He has a look of anger and distr ess on his face.
Paris Fitzpatrick. Image by Johan Persson

The young people dressed in white are drugged and drilled military style, overseen by guards and nurses handing out pills. They dance to Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knight in a punchy, regimented manner, marching with clenched fists.


Juliet, tonight played by Cordelia Braithwaite, is hounded and assaulted by Tybalt, a thuggish and threatening guard, much to the distress of her friends who frantically try to protect her.


Romeo is dumped in the institute by his uncaring ambitious politician parents. He is disturbed and twitchy, jumping on and off the ladder to the viewing platform. Is there something wrong with him or do they just want to keep him out of sight while they pursue their political career?


The dancing on the ladders and the edge of the viewing platform did make me a little anxious as it was quite high up, but it was done with such confidence and precision.


Boys and girls are usually separated but come together under controlled circumstances under the supervision of the guards or the kindly chaplain. But when inmates are left alone by guards, the informal moves turn raunchier and more chaotic filling the air with a sexual energy.

Romeo and the other inmates in the boys’ dormitory mess around.
Image by Johan Persson

Romeo and Juliet fall for each other under a glitterball at an organised dance. They later sneak out after dark where their passion takes over in a moving sensual duet with limbs wrapping around each other, and for quite a long period they dance with their lips locked together.


Their friends join in, inspired by their love until they are interrupted by a drunken Tybalt and tragedy ensues involving Mercutio one of the inmates, which leads to even more tragedy.


This is a very modern, almost futuristic reimagining of the Romeo and Juliet story. Choreographed brilliantly and danced with passion and energy­­ by a very talented bunch of young people, some of them making their professional debuts.


Not your traditional ballet, but recommended all the same.


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Πελάτης
20 Σεπ 2023

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