Scottish Ballet: Romeo and Juliet

May 22 2014 | By More

★★★★★   Entrancing drama

Festival Theatre  Wed 21 – Sat 24 May 2014

The current run of the Scottish Ballet’s revival of Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo and Juliet may be coming to an end, but it certainly isn’t the end of the line for this timeless classic. Playing at the Festival Theatre until Saturday, artistic director Christopher Hampson delivers dynamic, emotive and entrancing ballet.

Erik Cavallari as Romeo and Sophie Martin as Juliet in Scottish Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet. Photography by Andrew Ross

Erik Cavallari and Sophie Martin. Photo © Andrew Ross

The main dancers perform as if it was made for them, which of course it was. The 2008 production was created for the company, with Erik Cavallari and Sophie Martin originally working with Pastor to form their characterisations of the two lovers.

This third revival since the work was originally staged sees Cavallari and Martin returning, to bring a natural development to their roles and, joined by a new cast, there’s a visible individuality to the choreography. The captivating performances lead you through the complex array of emotions from naive innocence, to sensuality through to desolation and anguish.

One of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, this of course is the classic tale of doomed love between two feuding houses; the Montagues and the Capulets. The powerful imagery displayed on the video-projected backdrops contributes to the drama moving from the fascist ideology of 1930s Verona to a more accepting modern day, resonating the divide between the families.

The disparity between the families is epitomised by the characters of Victor Zarallo as Romeo’s playful friend Mercutio, and Scottish dancer Christopher Harrison, whose portrayal of Juliet’s cousin Tybalt is severe and austere. Pastor portrays the contrasts of the two houses through their confrontations.

“a delightful pause to the hostilities”

Dressed in light airy clothing, the Montagues cavort around the stage with an air of sociable freedom, accompanied by an uplifting score. Whereas the Capulets, dressed in dark military garb, always enter the stage together in closed uniform formations accompanied by the harsh and striking Dance of the Knights. This juxtaposition of cultures is perfectly embodied through Mercutio’s persistent and mirthful mocking of the uptight Tybalt and this feeds the tension that fuels Tybalt’s rage.

Victor Zarallo. Photo © Christina Riley

Victor Zarallo. Photo © Christina Riley

Owen Thorne’s sinister portrayal of Capulet is engrossing and further accentuates the contrast between the two houses, fuelling the tense atmosphere on stage. This is skilfully accompanied and in places countered by Eve Mutso as his wife, who shows some charming maternal moments with her daughter, Juliet.

Set within this feuding backdrop, it is the heart-wrenching effects of a forbidden love that make this story so tragic. Martin’s initial entrance portrays an enchanting and innocent Juliet as she weaves her way through a sea of bodies.

The hesitant, delicate interactions between Romeo and Juliet are a delightful pause to the hostilities. Watching their interplay through the choreography, it is impossible not to fall in love. As the story progresses, their love develops into a convincing display of intimacy and sensuality and then descends to desolation as the story darkens. Played beautifully, the dancers retain their form despite the overwhelming desperation of their characters.

Pastor’s choreography matches Sergei Prokofiev’s uplifting and emotive score perfectly. The combination of music and dance is so fluent that the raw emotion produced is as powerful, if not more so, than the well-known prose playing in the back of your head.

The production gracefully flies by and before you know it, the curtain has called time on the star-crossed lovers. The whole production leaves a feeling of tragic beauty, which of course is what Shakespeare intended.

The performances are exquisite and compelling; it’s difficult to see how it can be improved upon. A show to be savoured again and again.

Running time 2 hrs (including one interval)
Run ends Saturday 24 May 2014
Evenings 7.30 pm, Matinee Sat 2 pm
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
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