Theatre Review - Romeo and Juliet

Matthew Bourne and his talented team have reimagined Shakespeare’s classic and given the tragic romance a futuristic twist.

It’s set in the white-tiled, antiseptic Verona Institute overlooked by a balcony. At first, we are not sure if this is a mental hospital, a very strict school or a prison for “difficult” young people.

The inmates are dressed in white, appear to be medicated and behave like automatons ruled over by the tyrannical guard Tybalt (Danny Reubens). Gradually, however, their different personalities begin to emerge in small acts of rebellion.

Tybalt is obsessed by Juliet (Cordelia Braithwaite) and stalks her relentlessly, his abuse carried out behind locked doors, until Romeo (Paris Fitzpatrick) arrives with his wealthy, politically ambitious parents. They enrol him in the institute and he meets Juliet at one of the social gatherings where the inmates are allowed to mix and dance together.

It takes a little while to orientate ourselves in Bourne’s strange new world. There are no warring families – the young characters are united in their acts of disobedience against an unnamed authority, represented by the guards. A clique forms led by Ben Brown’s fiery Mercutio.        

Romeo and Juliet’s passionate attraction is conveyed in a thrilling and sensual pas de deux with surely the longest continuous kiss in ballet history.

This slick production is a crowd pleaser. As ever, the dancing is sublime. It’s beautifully choreographed and Terry Davies has created a new arrangement of Prokofiev’s score for sixteen live musicians.

Bourne claims this version developed in the rehearsal room responding to discussions with the young cast. Their imaginative approach should delight existing fans and win New Adventures further admirers.

To September 2

 Orignally published by Islington Tribune