Review: Romeo and Juliet Bath Theatre Royal by Pip Larkham 8/10
OK it may have been minus three degrees outside, but inside the atmosphere was pretty frosty, too. The Moscow City Ballet were performing with poise and precision, but the audience were simply not applauding after the dances in each act. Were hands still tucked snugly inside mittens or was everyone just a bit tired for a Monday?
Luckily, the audience warmed up, as did their appreciation and applause during this classic ballet over the three-hour show.
We all know the story of the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, whether it's through the words of Shakespeare, embedded in 1950s New York (a la West Side Story), or performed through ballet. The love affair is doomed as a bitter rivalry between two gangs puts an end to any chance they may have of living happily ever after.
There is drama from the word go as we're given a glimpse of the chilling fate that awaits four of the main characters – Juliet (Alevtina Lapshina), Romeo (Talgat Kozhabayev), Juliet's brother Tybalt (Danil Orlov), and Romeo's friend Mercutio (Artem Minakov).
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From then on the dancing and mood is bright and cheerful, but play fighting turns to pushing and shoving, the fists come out, knives and swords are soon produced and, when Juliet falls for a masked Romeo at her first ball, all hell breaks loose between the Montagues and the Capulets.
Despite the fighting and the eventual tragedy, the Moscow City Ballet injected a great deal of humour into the ballet – Romeo's friends are great at teasing anyone who comes their way, while the Nurse (Lyubov Lysak) plays comedy and tragedy with great ease. But the star of the show was easily Lapshina – her expressions of pain, indifference, joy and innocence were excellent.
She commanded the stage brilliantly on her own or when the super-strong Kozhabayez was throwing her around like a rag doll. There was some daring and excellent choreography between the two leads.