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Romeo and Juliet review at Festival Edinburgh

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Intense and dark, Krzysztof Pastor’s naturalistic choreography for Scottish Ballet’s new production of Romeo and Juliet finds the tragedy of love defeated by war.

With Tatyana Van Walsum’s video-projected backdrops, which set the piece first in Italy in the thirties for the couple’s first meeting, the fifties for Mercutio’s murder and finally, in the present day for the death scene, this is a production which declares its contemporary resonance. As such it works magnificently well. Jackbooted Capulets march stiffly across the street scenes, mocked by the free-living Montagues.

While Shakespeare created two households both alike in dignity, Pastor clearly indicates which one he favours. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the constant scrapping between Paul Liburd, mockingly sensual as Mercutio, and Tama Barry, stiffly arrogant as Tybalt. With a strong underlying sense of sexual tension between them, theirs is, in many ways, the central pairing of the ballet. It is a manifestation of what really causes the Lovers’ downfall. It also provides the ballet’s best choreography, as the moves associated with each house intermingle with the other.

The darkness of the piece is helped by dropping the characters of the Nurse and Duke completely. There is no room for the Nurse’s distracting comedy, while Oliver Rydout’s Friar Laurence is the sole symbol of authority needed.

The naturalism works very well in this scheme, with Erik Cavallari a dashing Romeo and Sophie Martin supremely winsome as Juliet. However, it wants for the sort of truly uplifting choreography (in both senses) for their pas-de-deux, which a less naturalistic choreographer might have given. A strong, modern interpretation that needs an extra edge of beauty to temper its tragedy.

Production Information

Festival, Edinburgh, May 13-17, then touring until June 7

Choreographer
Krzysztof Pastor
Music
Sergei Prokofiev
Design
Tatyana Van Walsum
Producer
Scottish Ballet
Cast includes
Erik Cavallari, Sophie Martin, Paul Liburd, Luke Ahmet, Jarkko Lehmus, Limor Ziv, Tama Barry, Soon Ja Lee, Martinao Forioso
Running time
2hrs 5mins

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