‘Brilliantly told & unbelievably gripping’: MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO & JULIET – Touring ★★★★

In Dance, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Sophie GarrodLeave a Comment

Touring – reviewed at Wales Millennium Centre

Prior to this I had never seen, read or studied any version of Shakespeare’s most famous and classic love story Romeo and Juliet, and had never seen a ballet. This made Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet at Wales Millennium Centre a true first for me.

I was worried I wouldn’t understand the story, but I realised very quickly to believe in the critics that have described Bourne as a wonderful storyteller. Through physical movement, relationships between characters, facial expression and energy (both soft and dynamic), a beautifully tragic story is told.

As little as I did know about the classic story of Romeo and Juliet, I do know that this adaptation makes some quite noticeable
changes. The setting is one in the not too distant future in a location called “Verona Institute” – which appears to be a mental  institution. There are no Montagues or Capulets, and instead the division is between the young inmates – all dressed in white, and their prison guards.

The character of Tybalt is the main prison guard, and rather than Juliet’s brother, instead is her sexual abuser. The dance between
Juliet and Tybalt, respectively played by Seren Williams and Danny Reubens, which portrays her struggle against him is expertly done, making it at times difficult to watch, yet I could not look away.

Romeo, played by Andrew Monaghan, and Juliet meet at a party, similarly to the original version, and the main dance duet between them that follows is exquisite and stunning. The choreography is as passionate and energetic as it is soft and beautiful. The well-known balcony scene remains, and I felt myself in awe of their talent as they managed to portray such beautiful love through a well-choreographed dance.

As the pair returns to their respective “boys” and “girls’” dormitories, their fellow peers appear to mock them/ask questions about their encounter with the other, which really reminded me of the song ‘Summer Nights’ from Grease. I loved this moment and not sure if it was intended, but I certainly found it enjoyable and humorous at least.

This production was indeed quite dark, made so by Prokofiev’s
score and the setting in comparison to what I expect other versions of Romeo
and Juliet are like, but I liked this twist; being set in a mental asylum of
sorts, and some of the scenes such as all the inmates having their monotonous
exercise, medicine and bed-time routines made the show even more eerie and
intriguing.

The “Montague” cast of Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet
Credit: Johan Persson

As like the original production, Tybalt kills Mercutio,
played expertly by Ben Brown, in a power struggle towards the end of the
first act. His gay lover Balthasar, played by Asher Rosenheim, mourns
his death and nearly brought me to tears. Act two contains more differences
from the original that I don’t want to mention for fear of spoilers.

I am neither a Romeo and Juliet expert, nor a huge Shakespeare
fan, and while I loved the changes that were made to the original story, I fear
that those who are in the aforementioned categories may not enjoy this
production so much. It is a great story, brilliantly told and unbelievably
gripping, but in my opinion, is not the story of Romeo and Juliet that
so many know and love.

<img data-attachment-id=”2551″ data-permalink=”https://onewomanwestendshow.com/romeo-and-juliet-6/” data-orig-file=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg” data-orig-size=”4000,6000″ data-comments-opened=”1″ data-image-meta=”{“aperture”:”4″,”credit”:”JOHAN PERSSON”,”camera”:”ILCE-9″,”caption”:”ROMEO AND JULIET by Bourne, , Director and Choreographer – Matthew Bourne, Designer – Let Brotherston, Lighting – Paule Constable, Production images, Bradford, Alhambra Theatre, UK, 2019, Credit: Johan Persson\/”,”created_timestamp”:”1558536534″,”copyright”:”Johan Persson”,”focal_length”:”131″,”iso”:”1250″,”shutter_speed”:”0.0025″,”title”:”ROMEO AND JULIET”,”orientation”:”1″}” data-image-title=”Andrew Monaghan in Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet Credit: Johan Persson” data-image-description=”

Andrew Monaghan in Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet
Credit: Johan Persson

” data-medium-file=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?w=200″ data-large-file=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?w=683″ srcset=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=600,600&strip=all 600w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=900,900&strip=all 900w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=1200,1200&strip=all 1200w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=1500,1500&strip=all 1500w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=1800,1800&strip=all 1800w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=2000,2000&strip=all 2000w” data-height=”6000″ data-id=”2551″ data-link=”https://onewomanwestendshow.com/romeo-and-juliet-6/” data-url=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg” data-width=”4000″ src=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-andrew-monaghan-romeo.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=2000%2C2000&w=4000&h=6000″><img data-attachment-id=”2552″ data-permalink=”https://onewomanwestendshow.com/romeo-and-juliet-7/” data-orig-file=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg” data-orig-size=”3571,5357″ data-comments-opened=”1″ data-image-meta=”{“aperture”:”3.5″,”credit”:””,”camera”:”ILCE-9″,”caption”:”ROMEO AND JULIET by Bourne, , Director and Choreographer – Matthew Bourne, Designer – Let Brotherston, Lighting – Paule Constable, Production images, Bradford, Alhambra Theatre, UK, 2019, Credit: Johan Persson\/”,”created_timestamp”:”1558538169″,”copyright”:”Johan Persson”,”focal_length”:”147″,”iso”:”3200″,”shutter_speed”:”0.008″,”title”:”ROMEO AND JULIET”,”orientation”:”1″}” data-image-title=”Seren Williams in Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet Credit: Johan Persson” data-image-description=”

Seren Williams in Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet
Credit: Johan Persson

” data-medium-file=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?w=200″ data-large-file=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?w=683″ srcset=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=600,600&strip=all 600w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=900,900&strip=all 900w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=1200,1200&strip=all 1200w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=1500,1500&strip=all 1500w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=1800,1800&strip=all 1800w, https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=2000,2000&strip=all 2000w” alt=”Seren Williams in Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet Credit: Johan Persson” data-height=”5357″ data-id=”2552″ data-link=”https://onewomanwestendshow.com/romeo-and-juliet-7/” data-url=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg” data-width=”3571″ src=”https://onewomanwestendshow.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet.-seren-williams-juliet.-photo-johan-persson.jpg?resize=2000%2C2000&w=3571&h=5357″>

New Adventures’ production of Romeo and Juliet features an entirely young cast, which I feel was a brilliant decision as it only increases the vulnerability of the characters. Even more so, six younger dancers are chosen for each venue, and I can honestly say it was impossible to know which were the “professional” cast, who perform all venues, and which were the younger generation just for this leg of the tour; all the dancers in the ensemble merge perfectly, interact wonderfully and dance superbly.

I never thought of myself as a dance enthusiast, but Sir Matthew Bourne’s amazing storytelling may have changed me for the better because this production of Romeo and Juliet was sublime.

Romeo and Juliet plays the Wales Millennium Centre until 22 June 2019, before heading to London, Norwich, Birmingham and more, finishing on 12 October 2019.

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Sophie Garrod on InstagramSophie Garrod on RssSophie Garrod on Twitter
Sophie Garrod
Sophie Garrod has loved the theatre since a very young age and always loved to write. Whilst studying journalism, media and cultural studies at Cardiff University, she set up her One Woman West End Show website. She also now works at a theatre, so has insights into how theatres operate and how shows are produced. She writes reviews, as well as opinion pieces that are light-hearted and those that tackle more serious issues such as disability and race in theatre.
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Sophie Garrod on InstagramSophie Garrod on RssSophie Garrod on Twitter
Sophie Garrod
Sophie Garrod has loved the theatre since a very young age and always loved to write. Whilst studying journalism, media and cultural studies at Cardiff University, she set up her One Woman West End Show website. She also now works at a theatre, so has insights into how theatres operate and how shows are produced. She writes reviews, as well as opinion pieces that are light-hearted and those that tackle more serious issues such as disability and race in theatre.

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