Reviewed by Janine Rumble
Last night I visited the Royal & Derngate theatre in Northampton to watch the Russian State Ballet of Siberia perform William Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. It was an amazingly colourful and romantic production, accompanied by the very talented Orchestra of the Russian State Ballet.
We were promised that the Russian State Ballet of Siberia would bring outstanding performances and breath-taking physical ability and they certainly did not disappoint. I was in awe as I watched spellbound at their take on Shakespeare’s tale of passion and tragedy, brought to life by Prokofiev’s soaring score, with emotionally charged choreography that befits the world’s greatest love story.
Most people know the story of the doomed lovers Romeo and Juliet and it was amazing to watch the journey of their love, until its bittersweet end. The choreography by Sergei Bobrov was superb and really brought to life the story through exquisite movement by all of the ballet dancers. The set was very simple, showing backgrounds that transported us to fair Verona. This simplicity added beautiful detail that enhanced the overall feel of the ballet. The lighting was beautiful and blended in well with the set. The set designer Dmitry Tcherbadzhi also designed the costumes, which were truly spectacular and also enhanced the watchers understanding of who was who and I especially liked how they used different colours to show who were the Capulets and who were the Montagues. I also liked how four of the dancers, Romeo and Mercutio’s friends were dressed as musical instruments, this was very cleverly done and you could see which musical instrument they were meant to be.
“Two households, both alike in dignity. In fair Verona, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny. Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes. A pair of star crossed lovers take their lives.”
The ballet began in the marketplace with the people of Verona celebrating a Spring festival. Mercutio, Romeo’s friend, danced by Daniil Kostylev, performs a dance mocking the infamous and long-standing feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. Tybalt, Capulet’s nephew, danced by Ivan Karnaukhov, picks a fight with Lord Montague, danced by Alexander Kuimov and a fight between the families. The fight scene, including swords was beautifully choreographed and performed and you could feel the tension between the two families.
Romeo, danced by Yury Kudryatvtsev appears for the first time lost in thought and is then persuaded by Mercutio to secretly attend Lord Capulet’s grand masked ball.
Juliet, danced exquisitely by the beautiful Ekaterina Bulgutova appears with her nurse, danced by Anna Amelchenko. Juliet’s mother, Lady Capulet, danced by Elena Svinko who took her to meet Paris, danced by Dmitry Diachov, the man she was to marry, then joins them. Instead, she only has eyes for Romeo. Upon discovering Romeo within their midst, Lord Capulet, danced by Denis Kazarin calls for the guests to leave and whisks Juliet away to her room. Unbeknownst to him, Lady Capulet invites Tybalt to her room. The dancing and the costume changes to show what was happening between the two were very subtle.
Romeo sees Juliet on the balcony and they dance elegantly together through the garden, declaring their love for each other. Upon parting at dawn, Mercutio and his friends (the musical instruments) mock Romeo, who is then given a letter by Juliet’s nurse. We then see Juliet’s nurse help her get ready for her clandestine marriage to Romeo.
In the next scene, Romeo and Juliet are married by Friar Lorenzo, danced by Alexander Kuimov, who hopes the union would end the feud. Unfortunately, in the market place, Mercutio and his friends make fun of the secret passion of Tybalt and Lady Capulet, Romeo then becomes the brunt of Tybalt’s anger and Mercutio tries to shield Romeo and is fatally stabbed to death. The death heralds are quite ominous and the way they dance really brings the feeling of sadness and death with them. The amazing transformation of Mercutio’s soul was amazing and had the audience gasping as how it had happened. Romeo is then banished from Verona.
The Friar as part of a plan gives Juliet a sleeping potion for her to escape Verona to be with Romeo. Her family, thinking she is dead place her body in a tomb. Romeo, upon hearing of her death, goes to her and believing that she is dead, drinks poison. Juliet awakens as Romeo is dying and violently stabs herself to be with him.
“A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun for sorrow will not show his head, Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things. Some shall be pardoned, and some punished: For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
No words I can write can express just how amazing the choreography and the dancing was. Each of the dancers were amazingly talented, especially Yury Kudryavtsev (Romeo) and Ekaterina Bulgutova (Juliet). I was mesmerised as I watched them dance together in perfect synchronisation. They beautifully told their story and I felt all of the emotions as I watched, taken through their tale by the dancing and the music. It is something that has to be seen and experienced. I was amazed at the talent and stamina of all the dancers, they certainly are amazing. In addition, to think that they perform five different ballets on different days and with technically difficult and different steps, just blows my mind at how talented everyone at the Russian State Ballet of Siberia are.
This is only the second ballet I have watched and it will not be the last. I would highly recommend this show, to both first time ballet watchers and seasoned watchers. I would also recommend that if you get the opportunity to watch the Russian State Ballet of Siberia in any production, then you should, their dancing is phenomenal accompanied by beautiful music. Their tour, which is on until the beginning of April, consists of five different ballets: The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Snow Maiden, Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet. If you get the chance to watch any of these ballets, I promise you will not be disappointed.
The accompanying programme was very informative about all five ballets, with information about the Russian State Ballet of Siberia, which I found to be very interesting. It also included information on each of the ballets and the musical composers for each of the ballets. In addition, there is the usual information on all the members of the cast and crew. All of which are worth reading.
The Royal & Derngate is my local theatre and as usual, the evening was lovely, staff members were polite and our seats were close to the stage. Parking is nearby.
For other shows at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk or call the box office on 01604 624811.
Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811