Saturday, 3 March 2012

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet, Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House – reviewed on 3rd March
Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg
Photo:  Dee Conway, courtesy of ROH
Passion, violence and tragedy are Kenneth MacMillan’s favourite subjects. No wonder Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers and swordfights made for such an appealing theme. There are numerous other versions of the ballet, but MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, created in 1965, remains the definitive one. 

A staple of the Royal Ballet’s repertoire, it’s loved by dancers for its intense acting roles and is always guaranteed to sell tickets. Real-life lovers Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg bring a delightful playfulness and freshness to the title roles. Their balcony scene is filled with unadulterated joy as they teasingly reach for each other’s hands and seem to giggle with teenage excitement and inexperience.
They imbue the choreography with happiness, innocence and charm. It is only in Act 3 that the reality of their situation becomes apparent and they are drawn suddenly and powerfully into adulthood. Cojocaru makes her decision to take the sleeping potion a desperate and horrifying one. The audience can almost read Juliet’s thoughts as she displays every minute and agonising emotion of the character.
An excellent supporting cast complete the picture. Ricardo Cervera as Mercutio is dramatic and dynamic and Johannes Stepanek makes an attractive Paris. Genesia Rosato is an endearing nurse and harlot Kristen McNally is both enticingly seductive as well as vulnerable. But it is Cojocaru and Kobborg that make this ballet so utterly irresistible and heartbreaking.

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