A Feast for all the Senses

Ballet Cymru’s Romeo and Juliet (Photograph supplied)

Review: Ballet Cymru’s Romeo and Juliet

Ballet Cymru gave us an evening to remember with its sensitive, fast-moving and profound interpretation of the most poignant of all Shakespeare’s tragedies, Romeo and Juliet.

Sergei Prokoviev’s 1938 score provided the emotional landscape and was subtly altered to enhance action, sometimes (as at the end of Act One) remaining completely silent, other times tragically erotic (during Romeo and Juliet’s pas de deux) or satirical (as in Juliet’s rejection of Count Paris in Act Two), all while emphasising the grim and violent aspects of the tragedy.

At times the music soared while the dancers ceased to dance. Bermuda’s own Krystal Lowe danced the part of Juliet and used childlike, innocent wonder as well as powerful emotions in the role.

These ranged from ecstatic eroticism to extreme revulsion (such as when she wrestled with herself whether to take the sleeping draught provided by Friar Laurence). For me, the most emotionally overwhelming moment of the evening was when the despairing Romeo danced with her lifeless body, a technical tour de force. Other roles stood out: Juliet’s friend Cerys as go-between and innocently frolicsome, Mercutio, cheeky, witty and tragic; Tybalt as gangster thug.

Also impressive were Juliet’s parents — aristocratic and haughty, bordering on the abusive and Friar Laurence as a woman.

Ensemble work, especially the fight choreography, was authentically violent and brilliantly emphasised by having the Capulets and Montagues in tap shoes to create a wall of military marching which reminded me of the riot police in Billy Elliott.

Sets were back projections with front-shadowing. They ranged from blobby abstractions to concrete cityscapes, steel shutters, airy interiors; an ivy-covered balcony and, finally, a series of authentic-looking chandeliers in the vault. This was a production for all the senses, but it’s the emotional blow of lost innocence and wasted potential in the three lifeless bodies before us which moved us most. A star-studded cast for these star-crossed lovers indeed.

• Ballet Cymru’s Romeo and Juliet appeared at Ruth Seaton James on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts