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Rasta Thomas’ Romeo and Juliet

Adrienne Canterna (Juliet) and Preston Swovelin (Romeo) in Romeo and Juliet at the Peacock Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton

If you are 15, a fan of pop music and studying GCSE-level Shakespeare, you will probably enjoy Rasta Thomas’ Romeo and Juliet.

The Bad Boys Of Dance bring some great energy and technically skilled dancing to Shakespeare’s greatest love story, despite a rocky start after technical faults saw the curtain fall and the production restart 15 minutes later. Starring alongside choreographer Adrienne Canterna, who plays the role of Juliet, their virtuosic style, showmanship and charisma carry the performance, alongside some tricksy backflips, soaring high split jumps and modern moves.

Ivan Gomez as Benvolio is step-perfect, as is the somersaulting Ryan Carlson as Tybalt, and Preston Swovelin is jovial, smooth and charming as Romeo.

While the group gels, there are some questionable scenes. Choreographically, some sections could be seen in a club in Ibiza as much as on the West End stage. It’s an odd mix of classical ballet moves, musical theatre phrasing and lyrical jazz, with a painting-by-numbers approach to characters and story. Juliet ditching the pointe shoes to dance around her bedroom to Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, all excited jumps, hip-jut posing and legs akimbo, epitomises the essence of the performance.

The problem with the premise is that other than setting the dance to Vivaldi and a playlist of pop tunes rather than the traditional Prokofiev score, this version of Romeo and Juliet offers nothing new. While scenes may not have been set to Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars before, changing the music alone isn’t enough to sustain a fresh perspective on the plot or characters.

Dates: March 3-29, PN March 4

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Verdict
While there is certainly a place for this kind of commercial fun, choreography connoisseurs or those in search of amazing artistry will be left disappointed
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