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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet review at Sadler’s Wells – ‘intense emotion’

Cesar Morales and Momoko Hirata in Romeo and Juliet at Sadler's Wells, London
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Kenneth MacMillan was a choreographer who truly knew how to express emotion. This was particularly evident in his pas de deux, and in his version of Romeo and Juliet, the plot hangs on the intensity of emotion of its two leads.

In the hands of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Momoko Hirata (Juliet) and Cesar Morales (Romeo), the passionate choreography of those moments is fulfilled.

Their initial meeting at the Capulet’s masked ball is danced with a fervent, yet cautiously tender, energy. It’s a tone in keeping with Hirata’s initially childlike Juliet. With feather-light bourees she slips shyly behind her nurse, more interested in her doll than Paris’ proposal of marriage.

It’s a credit to their artistry that within just a few encounters, Hirata and Morales evolve from young, excitable lovers to tortured souls. From the all-absorbing passion and sorrow that fuels their parting in the Act III bedroom scene, to Juliet’s rigid and lifeless pas de deux with Paris, Hirata and Morales offer a captivating portrayal driven by pain and passion in equal measure.

The interlinking scenes of market place revelry and drawn-out sword fights can feel long-winded, but the playful interaction between the corps and the spirited performances of the soloists maintain a lively energy.

As Mercutio and Benvolio, Tzu-Chao Chou and Brandon Lawrence adopt a boisterous, affable approach. Chou’s solo at the Capulet’s ball is particularly impressive, both in elevation and the crisp execution of his steps.

While the whole production is entertaining, the intense emotion of Hirata and Morales’ performance really shines.

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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s charismatic production is as entertaining as it is devastating