Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet. Sadler’s Wells to 31 August . 5*****. William Russell

Romeo and Juliet
By Matthew Bourne.
Music by Prokofiev
Sadler’s Wells theatre, Roseberry Avenue, London EC1R to 31 August 2019. And on tour Southampton, Canterbury, Norwich, Birmingham, & Newcastle.
Sold Out consult box office for returns. 020 7863 8015
Review: William Russell 9 August.

Forget Shakespeare, forget West Side Story, forget Kenneth MacMillan and ponder whether this is an evening to take your Nutcracker obsessed child to because as always with Matthew Bourne you are surprised. Set in some sort of institution – a borstal, a clinic for disturbed adolescents, it is never clear what the Verona Institute to which his wealthy parents take Romeo – this is a tale of young love, of young people regimented, subjected to disciplines against their will clad in virginal white, there for reasons never explained but incarcerated nonetheless. It is magnificently danced, sinuous and athletic, sexy and disturbing. But just what is going on is never really clear. Tybalt appears to be some kind of prison guard with designs on the inmates, the Friar, who helps the lovers, is the prison or hospital chaplain and a woman, as is the governor or headmistress who seems to be facing incipient rebellion. What one remembers is the dancing, the spectacularly well drilled ensemble, and the scene where new boy Romeo is stripped of his clothes and dressed in the white clothes all the inmates wear by some of his new companions. Paris Fitzpatrick and Cordelia Braithwaite are the impassioned lovers fighting against something and in Lez Brotherton’s glorious set – tiled walls and overarching walkway – reflected somehow on the tiles as they dance so that you are never quite sure where you are, what is real and what is a dream. Prokofiev’s score has been adapted to suit the occasion by Terry Davies so that the sound is different, lighter, less romantic and lush. It is an evening for young dancers to dance young people, to display their skills and if maybe it does not stir the heart – the tragedy of the lovers ends in an awful lot of stage blood – as do more straightforward ways of telling their story it certainly is visually thrilling, frequently quite gay and provides something to talk about afterwards in abundance. With Bourne one should always think films and this is, one assumes, inspired by all those inside these walls dramas from Snake Pit to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to – well take your pick. Either way you will not forget what you saw even if you have not quite followed the plot.
There are two casts, the one I saw was
Romeo: Paris Fitzpatrick.
Juliet: Cordelia Braithwaite.
Tybalt, a guard: Dan Wright.
Mercutio: Reece Causton.
Balthasar, his boyfriend: Jackson Frisch.
Benvolio: Harrison Dowzell.
Senator & Mrs Montague: Matt Petty & Daisy May Kemp.
Rev Bernadette Laurence: Daisy May Kemp.
Frenchie: Hannah Mason.
Dorcas: Bryony Harrison.
Magdalen: Monique Jones.
Lavinia: Roison Whelan.
Morgan: Sharol Mackenzie.
Edmund: Christopher Thomas.
Lennox: Alexander Fadayiro.
Sebastian: Callum Bowman.
Fabian: Cameron Flynn.
Nurses, Guard & Orderly: Daisy May Kemp & Matt Petty.
Governor Esvalus: Monique Jonas.
Psychiatrist: Reece Causton.
Local Cast
Tanisha Addicott, Emily Galvin, Hannah Kramer, Janacek Wood, Dan Baines & Ashton Hall.

Director and Choreographer: Matthew Bourne.
Set & Costumes Design: Lez Brotherston.
Lighting Design: Paula Constable.
Sound Design: Paul Groothuis.
Orchestrations: Terry Davies.
Young Associate Choreographer: Arielle Smith.
Production photography: Johan Perrson.

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