Review: Ballet Cymru’ – Romeo a Juliet, The Riverfront, Newport

Ballet Cymru returned to Newport’s Riverfront Theatre on Thursday evening with their second revival of William Shakepeare’s Romeo a Juliet.

Beginning the evening was Romeo and Duets performed by Moorland Primary School Duets Scholars.  The performance was a result of a 2 year programme  in which Ballet Cymru and Rubicon Dance worked with children who may not be able to access ballet and dance provision through traditional routes.

In Romeo and Duets, the performance utilised the themes of conflict, segregation, love and unity from Romeo and Juliet with youthful energy and a keen eye to detail.

Undoubtedly these children have now gained a lifelong skill they can take into their futures and a sense of appreciation for their talents from the applause of the audience.

Next up was Romeo a Juliet.

Choreographed by Amy Doughty and Darius James OBE, the production wastes no time in tearing into dance action.

From the dramatic feuding of the Montagues and the Capulets to the agonising pain caused by forbidden love and arranged marriages, each subject touched by the Shakespeare Classic has a contemporary equivalent and therefore continues to fascinate as a ballet presentation.

A scene from Ballet Cymru’s Romeo a Juliet. Photos by Sian TrenberthA scene from Ballet Cymru’s Romeo a Juliet. Photos by Sian Trenberth

A scene from Ballet Cymru’s Romeo a Juliet. Photos by Sian Trenberth

While Romeo a Juliet’s staging may appear to be simplistic, with strategically positioned curtains and lit backdrops, it was easy to place the characters of the piece in and around Verona.

High-energy choreography made excellent use of the stage space, be it an intimate performance of 2 to 3 dancers or the larger group staged fight sequences of the Montagues and Capulets.

While the foot-stomping clog dancing sequence staged against Prokoviev’s brilliantly majestic Montagues and Capulets was one of the ballets more surreal moments, the staging of the battles was equally brilliant.

Miguel Fernandez gave a cheeky portrayal of Romeo’s friend, Mercutio. His combined jumping and flying into danger sometimes gave echoes of the gung-ho spirit of Douglas Fairbanks Jr combined with the comedic braveness of Charlie Chaplin. One feels quite sad at Mercutio’s ultimate demise at the hands of Tybalt (performed with a ferocious energy by Robbie Moorcroft).

Andrea Maria Battaggia was Romeo and gave an extra dimension to the character in performance making him both heroic and romantic. Danila Marzilli not only captivated Battaggia’s love-struck Romeo but also her audience. From carefully choreographed moments of sweeping intimacy (of which Marzilli and Bataggia displayed to perfection) to silent screams of isolated anguish, Miss Marzilli brought a definitive and identifiable portrayal of Juliet to the stage.

With atmospheric music provided by Sinfonia Cymru, Romeo a Juliet is a fabulous way to sample classic Shakespeare through the medium of dance. Don’t miss it as the production tours venues over the summer.

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