While Shakespeare tells Romeo & Juliet through lexical artistry and iambic pentameter, Birmingham Royal Ballet relays the romance and sensuality through movement and dance.
Romeo & Juliet recites a tale as old as time: one where star-crossed lovers are torn apart by requital vengeance and feuding families. Even though Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy will forever be one of the most incredible plays written, Birmingham Royal Ballet manifests the same tenderness in the absence of words.
Enveloped by the poetic music score throughout – conducted by Martin Georgiev, and led by Robert Gibbs – the production is achingly beautiful in its soft muliebrity. As Céline Gittens (Juliet) exudes passion and effeminate delicacy, Brandon Lawrence (Romeo) defines romance with his language of ballet; every dancer alongside them approaches the stage with distinction, ensuring their movements are fluent in the poignancy of Shakespearean soliloquy.
Accentuating the artistry is the set design (curated by Paul Andrews), which can only truly be described as magnificent. Seeing the grandeur and brilliance of the stage is breath-taking and echoes the opulence of Renaissance Venice. This, intertwined with the idyllically intimate lighting (John B. Read) of that all-famous balcony scene, sees femininity and theatricality blend together impeccably.
I must admit I had my doubts on how choreographer Kenneth MacMillan would convey the linguistic intensions of genius William Shakespeare. However, with it being one of my favourite plays, I can safely say that almost instantly, a semantic field of elegance and fluency is established, pioneering the storyline we all know and love. This, alongside the poetry that is the costume designs (Paul Andrews) perfects the splendour of the performance as a whole.
As I left Birmingham Hippodrome, I felt honoured to live in a city that encourages art forms such as dance and theatre to thrive so creatively, and truly appreciated the flawless abilities of every dancer on stage. Birmingham Royal Ballet once again curated a piece that spoke so loudly to the heart of the performance, and every moment was like watching an Elizabethan painting come to life.
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Romeo & Juliet runs until Saturday October 9. For details and tickets click here.