Matthew Bourne's Romeo + Juliet

“It’s raw, intense and full of passion"

Over the years we have seen this story told many different ways, it’s been set in different locations, time periods but always ends the same way, and always tells what many consider to be the greatest love story of all time. 

Matthew Bourne has brought this story up to the not too distant future, in the fashion we have come to know from Bourne the original story has been re-vamped and some changes have been made which often leaves us guessing what will come next. Instead of war torn families we have a gender divide imposed by the powers that be who run the institute. The setting is left slightly up to the audiences interpretation. It might be a youth rehabilitation facility, it might be a prison, it might be a mental health unit...all we know is that it’s called ‘Verona Institute’ and not so far Verona is where the dancers lay their scene. 

The title characters are danced by Paris Fitzpatrick as Romeo and Cordelia Braithwaite as Juliet. Their chemistry on stage in palpable, using their bodies wonderfully to portray the love-struck teenagers who just cannot keep their hands off each other. 

Danny Reubens is outstanding a Tybalt, who now is an officer of the institute. It’s a dark twisted character and Danny really brings this to life through his movement.

One of the defining factors of any New Adventures piece is the inclusion of new dancers who are at the start of their career. Each dancer holds their own in this piece, all working wonderfully as a company and also as individuals. 

There are several moments which show incredible skill and strength from each dancer, moving with beautiful grace and lightness into loud intense movements which catch your attention. In particular Jackson Fisch gives us a heart-breaking sequence at the beginning of act 2, he’s lost his love and is taking out his frustrations. It’s an intense, powerful sequence that will take your breath away. 

Lez Brotherson has done a fantastic job of the design in this piece. It’s cold, clinical and feels uncomfortable. You can relate to the feelings of the children being kept in this awful place. The costumes are simple and allow for the incredible dancing to be the centre of attention. 

This is not the twee, light-hearted ballet you may expect. It’s raw, intense and full of passion. This piece holds the record for the longest choreographed continuous kiss, spanning across multiple levels on the set it’s quite a marvel to have achieved. There are several moments where you are made to feel uncomfortable as an onlooker, it makes you step back and asses your feelings around the situations you see unfolding in front of you. It’s a must see for any dance enthusiast.

This show was reviewed on the 4th August 2023.  Matthew Bourne's Romeo + Juliet runs at the Sadlers Wells Theatre until the 2nd September 2023.  Tickets available here: Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet - Sadler's Wells Theatre (sadlerswells.com)

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

Review written by Rosie Browne

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Photo credit: Johan Persson

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