Romeo & Juliet @ The Mayflower, Southampton
Romeo and Juliet is, of course, one of (probably the) most famous love stories ever told. It seems then a fitting subject for a ballet and I was excited to see how English National Ballet would handle it as they’ve yet to disappoint.
The first thing that becomes apparent is that Prokofiev has not gifted this ballet with a particularly beautiful score. It suits the more boisterous moments well, but lacks the romance that, for instance, Tchaikovsky, would have brought to proceedings.
It’s also hindered somewhat by Nureyev’s choreography which I found incredibly disjointed. The titular characters get some wonderful dances, notably in the slightly overlong but very beautiful pas de deux, but lack real character.
Thankfully Fernando Bufalá singlehandedly saves proceedings with his incredibly charismatic Mercutio, the gallant clown who continutally puts a smile on morose Romeo’s face. He’s aided and abetted by James Forbat who makes for an entertaining Benvolio and Fabian Reimair is a superb foil as the permanently angry Tybalt.
Elsewhere performances, including Esteban Berlanga’s Romeo and Begoña Cao as Juliet are very good, but are served by choreography and music that, the glorious The Montagues and Capulets aside (you might know it as the theme from The Apprentice), just doesn’t quite do the performers, or the story, justice. Nonetheless, if you enjoy ballet you will find plenty to like here.