It’s a story that has been told hundreds and thousands of times before. We’ve all seen countless versions of the most beautifully tragic romance story ever told. So what makes this one so different? Well, for starters, it was performed by the English National Ballet. I’ve not seen this told in such an art form before so my particular perception of this is with fresh eyes.
For the most part, it was captivating to the point where you’d lose yourself in the performance so much you completely forgot where you were; the musical score performed so succinctly with the dance that you would believe it were one and the same. It is a score so distinct to the story that it totally blurs reality. This is just a minute detail into the beauty of this performance. However, much like the story itself this performance wasn’t all roses. It may be because I was particularly tired into the final few acts or perhaps I am being particularly unfair but there is a particular scene that doesn’t make sense to me; it was one where family and guests were congregated in Juliet’s bedroom for what is supposed to be her ‘wedding day’; the issue being, why are they all in her bedroom? Obviously I understood what they were trying to do, and as I say, I may be seemingly unfair in that remark, but it seemed awfully out of place to me. I too understand that in such a performance it is a challenge to create the perception of several rooms but this, unfortunately, shattered the illusion for me somewhat. That’s just me being picky; otherwise, it was a faultless, striking rendition.
The true spectacle of this for me though was Jurgita Dronita as Juliet. For me, she truly captured the character, more so than any before her. When we meet her as a young, carefree child, Jurgita had that youthful glow about her, the doe like eyes and playful demure; and as we see the events unfold and see her transition into womanhood, Jurgita was not only able to project this through movement but it was as if I could see her features change about her as well. As her angst grows, it was as if I could see this within her face as well; the pain and torture etched on her face forever. It was just so beautifully performed. Juliet, I believe, is quite a complex character that endures such monumental changes in such a short space of time; Jurgita’s performance not only captured the spirit but she fully unleashes it. It was a true sight to behold.
As for the actual story itself, the English National Ballet interpret Rudolf Nureyev’s version which feels more classically Shakespearean. They truly capture the complexity of joviality, free love and hatred. Through street fights, parties and love so intense it defies all else, the talented performers take you through the emotions without uttering a single word. It is quite simply spellbinding.
English National Ballet’s performance of Romeo and Juliet continues at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday- do go and see this, give this a chance, it is enlightening!