Matthew Bourne's Romeo + Juliet

“Dark, raw, passionate and stunning”

Matthew Bourne's ground-breaking adaptation of Romeo + Juliet takes Shakespeare's timeless tale of love and tragedy and reimagines it with a contemporary and daring twist. In this electrifying ballet production, Bourne transports the audience to a gritty, yet visually stunning Verona, where the traditional constraints of time and place are shattered, and the characters are brought to life in a fresh and vibrant way. With his signature choreographic innovation and a compelling narrative, Bourne's Romeo + Juliet is a captivating and emotionally charged reinterpretation of a classic love story.

During my time at the Wolverhampton Grand, which is new venue for the touring productions of Matthew Bourne’s work with his company, New Adventures, it was clear to see why Bourne is at the top of his game and with a very informative and fascinating Q&A with the man himself after the performance, his passion for dance was obvious, something I found extremely infectious and inspiring for future performers and choreographers.

Now to the performance itself.  The stunning cast of young, talented dancers really do transport the audience on a journey of passion, despair, misery and happiness in a way that without any spoken dialogue is quite simply breathtaking.  Our two protagonists Romeo (Paris Fitzpatrick) and Juliet (Cordelia Braithwaite) were able to display the torment of the two star crossed lovers in a way I’ve never experienced before, and dancing whilst engaging in the longest kiss known to dance, this relationship was everything it needed be in order to capture their unrequited love for each other.

The staging for this piece designed by Lez Brotherston is so innovative in its construction.  We see the words ‘Verona Institute’ above the cold and clinical surroundings, however as Bourne mentioned himself during the Q&A it’s really up to the audience member to decide what sort of institution this is.  The way the set is used is so clever, with every inch of it being made part of the performance with the dancers running up and down the stairs either side and climbing the rungs on the walls in a way that on occasion felt like the performer could have been flying.  Every movement is so expertly executed.  Even the way the cast move the props around the stage feels part of the routine and is very cleverly choreographed.

The music in this piece by Sergei Prokofiev fits the story perfectly.  The opening routine plays out to Dance of the Knights, which is more widely known as the theme from TV show The Apprentice. This piece of music brings a dramatic element to the piece and is used in part throughout in slightly different arrangements depending on the mood of that particular scene.

The cast as a whole is spectacular; however, I must mention Adam Galbraith as Tybalt.  Portrayed as a guard within the institute, his portrayal of this monster of a character was mesmerising.  His performance was strong, powerful and unsettling, so the boo’s from the audience at the end were truly deserved, in the right kind of way of course!

Being a fan of Matthew Bourne’s work means that I have seen a few of his shows over the years and I am never disappointed with his exquisite storytelling through dance.  He is a visionary and legendary within the dance world, so its safe to say that I cannot wait for my next new adventure!

This show was reviewed on the 17th October 2023.  Matthew Bourne's Romeo + Juliet runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until the 21st October 2023.  Tickets here: MATTHEW BOURNE'S ROMEO AND JULIET | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Full tour details here: Romeo and Juliet | New Adventures (new-adventures.net)

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Photo credit: Johan Persson

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