Jane Wing, Hawthorne Theatre Reviewer
Last night I went to see Ballet Cymru's production of 'Romeo and Juliet' at The Hawthorne Theatre, Campus West in WGC. I am not a regular ballet goer, but I was really looking forward to this having recently seen a production of the play and therefore knowing I would definitely be able to follow the plot!
I was not disappointed! Ballet Cymru are and up and coming company who strive to add a unique flavour to their productions, and I think they really achieved this aim with this version of the classic tragedy.
From the very beginning it was clear that we were not going to see a traditional interpretation. The costumes were very interesting, militaristic, stylised, with the members of the 'two households' mainly differentiated by the use of colour. A notable exception to this was Mercutio (danced by the excellent Dausuke Miura) who wore a striking boldly coloured outfit which seemed to set him apart from the others.
The set was minimal and provided entirely by projections onto the backdrop which seemed a very practical solution for a touring production and quite effective in this case, although I couldn't quite work out where we were supposed to be – some kind of run down city slum or perhaps a war damaged place if the military theme is to be followed through.
I must mention the beautiful Prokofiev score which I absolutely love. This version was recorded by Sinfonia Cymru – who's mission is to nurture and support young musicians at the start of their careers.
The dancing was energetic and accomplished, and I liked the way the emotions of the characters were shown by the dancers through their faces as well as their dance moves. The choreography felt very contemporary to my inexperienced eye and when I read that Jo Fong the guest choreographer has worked with many different visual arts companies, including DV8 Physical Theatre, I was not surprised!
A particularly interesting scene was the 'Dance of the Knights' which was done with the use of traditional Welsh clog dancing intermingled with the traditional ballet. I thought this worked very well and the sound of the clogs added an imposing and threatening edge to the scene which played well with the military look and covered faces of the dancers.
Individual performances that stood out for me were those of Juliet (Lydia Arnoux) and Mercutio. I mentioned that Dausuke Miura's costume made him stand out – but so did his performance! He was the dancer your eye was constantly drawn to with an energy and strength that made him very eye catching. And Lydia Arnoux is so tiny and delicate to look at that she easily captured the youth and vulnerability of Juliet which made me really believe in her beautifully shown internal struggle over whether to drink the friar's potion or not. I also felt that Juliet's relationship with Romeo (Daniel Morrison) was played with a gentleness and innocence which helped to reinforce the youth of the 'star crossed' duo.
The emotion story was so convincing that despite knowing the tragic ending that must come, I did find myself wishing for a miracle to happen so I wouldn’t have to witness poor Juliet waking in the burial chamber to find Romeo already dead beside her! But alas, it was not to be, and we were all carried along emotionally to the finale together.
I left with a real desire to see more ballet, I want to see different interpretations of this and other classics, and I will definitely be purchasing a recording of the score with the certain knowledge that listening to it will whisk me back to the romance and drama I saw last night.
Once again the Hawthorne Theatre have shown that watching a small production on a local stage, if cleverly done, can prove just as exciting and innovative as those produced on a much grander scale.