Since its creation in 1965, the Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet has been a favourite with audiences, and the choice role for dancers, be it the leads of Romeo and Juliet or the many characters that people Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers. The Royal Ballet’s current run of the romantic tear-jerker opened with Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli in the title roles. Both are skilled dancers who have now come to the fore due to recent exits. Here, they shine, Bonelli as the gentle-natured Romeo and Cuthbertson as the impetuous Juliet.
The Royal Ballet-grown Cuthbertson is slender of limb, with lovely arms and hands that seem to float in the air. Bonelli has kitten-soft feet, a rare quality in male dancers but spot-on for Romeo, indicating his gentle nature and easy romanticism. It provides the perfect contrast to Ricardo Cerera’s Mercutio, Romeo’s larky chum who dances as spikily and daringly as he lives. Dawid Trzensimiech’s Benvoio makes less impact, although Laura Morera leads the three harlots with lascivious panache with Romany Pajdak and Laura McCulloch willing collaborators in her sensuous game.
The rest of the Royal Ballet dancers performed with duty rather than inspiration, with some of the crowd scenes in Act I and Act II marked rather than authentically acted. However, the orchestra was inspired, with conductor Barry Wordsworth providing a sumptuous and amorous account of Prokofiev’s score. Next to this, the sets and costumes felt dated.