Romeo and Juliet, Royal Ballet, January 2010

What a relief this was from the Maryinsky’s old Soviet pantomime Romeo and Juliet last August. Kenneth Macmillan’s version is the choice of several ballet companies, and with its designs by Nicholas Giorgiadis forms a fine response to Prokofiev’s wonderful music.

Tamara Rojo as Juliet

The cast for this first night of the present run was a strong one headed by Tamara Rojo, whose portrayal of a convincingly distraught Juliet at the end could hardly be bettered. She was very well partnered by Rupert Pennefather, whose elegant and youthful Romeo was equally convincing. Gary Avis was terrific as Tybalt, never overstepping the line into pathological irascibility, as sometimes happens. He was always controlled, while smouldering with mockery at the Montagues, and rage at Romeo.

Romeo’s friends Mercutio and Benvolio were very well danced by José Martín and Sergei Polunin, and in fact Polunin was the best Benvolio I ever remember seeing. His first sword fight in Act I was superbly on the music. David Pickering portrayed an anxiously callow Paris, Genesia Rosato was an excellent nurse, and Elizabeth McGorian a suitably dramatic Lady Capulet. A couple of comments on the more minor roles: Brian Maloney was superbly musical as the soloist in the Mandolin Dance, and the three harlots were all well danced by Laura Morera, Samantha Raine and Francesca Filpi.

Boris Gruzin in the orchestra pit did a superb job, giving the dancers ample musical stimulation. Tamara Rojo will be dancing Juliet again on January the 16th, presumably with Pennefather who replaced Acosta in this performance,  so any available tickets should be snapped up. If you miss that performance there are plenty more, with a whole range of Juliets, some of whom will be very good indeed — Cojocaru, Benjamin and Nuñez particularly spring to mind.

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