Romeo and Juliet

Lyric Theatre (Queensland Ballet)

You are a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wings
and soar with them above a common bound.
   ― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Amidst the sword-fights and entrenched hatred between two families in old Verona, two lovers bind in life and death.

Sir Kenneth McMillan’ choreographed this work for the Royal Ballet as far back as 1965. It was famously first performed by Rudolf Nureyev (then aged 26) and Dame Margot Fonteyn(then aged 45) to rapturous applause and an extraordinary 43 curtain calls.  McMillan’s choreography continues to work its magic to this day.

To the stirring music of Sergei Prokofiev, the Queensland Ballet performs this  tragic tale with beauty and passion. Lucy Green dances the role of Juliet sublimely.  She embodies the wonder and vigour of youth. It is salutary to recall just  how young the Shakespearean Juliet is, a girl who ‘hath not seen the change of fourteen years’ (Act 1 Scene 2).

Her various pas de deux with Romeo (Victor Estevez) express the quintessence of love triumphing over old enmities. Estevez is a worthy Romeo Montague, torn between his family loyalty in the blood feud between the two clans and his new-found love for Juliet Capulet.

Prokofiev’s ‘Dance of the Knights’ at the ball of the Capuletsexpresses the menace between the households. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra comes alive in performing  this martial piece. The corps de ballet give a depth and strength to this  scene, led by superb dancing from Rachael Walsh (Lady Capulet) and Steven Heathcote (Lord Capulet). Brisbane audiences remember fondly Walsh’s brilliant performances as Juliet in the 2006 and 2010 productions of this ballet. In this production, Walsh expresses poignantly the agony of Lady Capulet over the  body of her fiery nephew Tybalt slain by Romeo.

Juliet does her best to resist her father’s attempts to marry her off to Paris (Zhi Fang). Green’s pas de deux with Fang displays restrained propriety but little warmth, much to the chagrin of Lord Capulet (Steven Heathcote).

Romeo and Juliet are  secretly married by Friar Laurence (Dylan Lackey). What follows is a maze of secret potions, missed messages and Romeo’s mistaking of life for death.

The closing scene in the crypt of the Capulets evokes the pathos of the young lovers finally united in death despite the hostility of the two foes – Lord Montague and Lord Capulet.

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes 
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows 
Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.

Choreographer: Sir Kenneth MacMillan 
Music: Sergei Prokofiev 
Staged by: Julie Lincoln
Fight director and stager: Gary Harris
Set and costume designer: Paul Andrews 
Lighting designer: John B. Read
Principal coach: Leanne Benjamin 
Lighting re-created by Cameron Goerg
Music performed by: Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nigel Gaynor

Duration: 2 hours 52 minutes (including one 20 minute interval and one 15 minute interval) 

Performances: 28 August – 7 September 2019

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Tue 3rd September 2019)

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