MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET | STAGE REVIEW
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Wed 19 June
As time ticks slowly on, the question of whether Shakespeare’s classic tales continue to be applicable to the trials and tribulations of the modern era remains. Choreographer Matthew Bourne brought his answer to the Wales Millennium Centre last night, as youthful exuberance met dire ends in his adaptation of Romeo And Juliet.
Staged in the “Verona Institute”, a high security ward/prison, clinical walls and barred off doors set out a bleak atmosphere from the beginning. The intense Prokofiev score and a focus on powerful group numbers sculpted the show’s offset into an intense depiction of some of life’s most painful subject matters: rape, loss, mental illness.
Modern takes on classic scenes (a new rendition of the Capulet party, for example) allowed the company to easily establish one of the core themes of the production: the vitality of youth. This being said, care was clearly taken not to subvert any important message laid out in Shakespeare’s centuries-old masterpiece. The show’s leads portrayed a youthful inexperience throughout, excellently demonstrating the impact of life’s blows on their once energetic, if not naive, outlook. If this was Bourne’s aim – to capture a fight between the expression of youth and the conformity the world requires – then the show must be considered a success.
Wales’ young talents, invited to join the professionals in a nationwide opportunity afforded to young dancers looking for professional opportunities, held their own amongst a company of well-practiced performers. Their inclusion, whilst obviously commendable for its efforts in furthering the careers of young dancers, also added distinctly to the youthful atmosphere Bourne seemed to be looking to create.
When looking at the performance in its entirety, it would be difficult to say that it failed to bring the story of Romeo and Juliet into the modern era. While successfully maintaining the themes and social commentary Shakespeare has been credited with achieving, Bourne achieved a marriage of old and new in a rendition of one of the world’s pre-eminent stories of love and heartbreak – one which did much to show that some tales will always remain relevant.
words ALEX KEENE photos JOHANN PERSSON
Running until Sat 22 June. Tickets: from £18. Info: here