Review: Romeo and Juliet by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Lowry, Salford

 Joseph Kaley and Momoko Hirato, as Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare used words to tell the tragic tale of star cross’d young lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet

The company of the Birmingham Royal Ballet use emotion.

Set to Sergio Prokofiev’s rousing score, which is translated with power and sensitivity by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Koen Kessels, this is a remarkable production which takes the audience on a sweeping journey alongside it’s tragic protagonists and their world of warring families in Verona.

400 years since the death of playwright Shakespeare himself, the ethereal Momoko Hirata floats across the stage through her role as Juliet, her tiny stature and mesmerising movement entirely convincing.

She is the 14-year-old Juliet, a child experiencing her first longings of womanhood , that Shakespeare intended.

Her transition is shared with wry tenderness.

She reluctantly leaves her childhood behind, eschewing her dolls and her nurse ( played with great humour here by Ruth Brill) as she falls for Romeo, here portrayed by the powerful, likeable, Joseph Kaley.

 Joseph Kaley as Romeo Joseph Kaley as Romeo

Their chemistry lights up the stage and their movement expressive as they ride the powerful emotional up and downs of teenagers in love.

Their pas de deux during the balcony scene is a delight.

As dancers they are first class, Momoko appears effortless as she glides around the stage, while Joseph lifts her as if she is indeed, light as a feather.

But this is a not just about two characters and is not just a ballet – a series of dancing set pieces set to music telling a story.

Here every face tells a different story.

This is a complete production, a story with dozens of back stories told by the fifty-strong cast executing Macmillan’s esteemed choreography with finesse.

The on-stage relationship between Romeo, Mercutio (Liverpool’s James Barton) and Benvolio (Jonathan Caguioa) is enthralling alongside Tybalt (Rory Mackay) and the subject of Romeo’s unrequited love – Rosaline – played by Carnforth’s Yvette Knight.

But everyone on this stage can act and during ensemble pieces it is difficult to know where to look as every dancer is acting out their own little sideshows- the constant movement is a feast for the eyes and the senses.

The choreography of the sword fights is remarkable and the audience is taken through drama of each death, each wince, each blow.

 Swordplay, Romeo and Juliet Swordplay, Romeo and Juliet

The physicality of the drama is entirely convincing and the audience gasps and sighs along as the story progresses through three acts to it’s final, famously doomed, conclusion.

This is a physically, emotionally and dramatically satisfying production.

Everything from the dramatic set design by Paul Andrews, costumes, lighting and choreography is beautiful and top class.

Set in the fantastic Lowry theatre this is a must-see.

This first appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post HERE

 The company, Romeo and Juliet The company, Romeo and Juliet