Scottish Ballet's Romeo and Juliet
Theatre Royal Glasgow, Wed 4–Sat 7 Jun
This article is from 2008.
Big narrative ballets are filled with opulent sets and long drawn-out scenes – right? Not this time. Scottish Ballet has taken a different approach to Shakespeare’s tragic love story. Gone is the 16th century palace, huge chunks of Prokofiev’s score – even key characters such as the Nurse and Paris. Instead, this short, sharp take on Romeo and Juliet is two hours of intense love, hate and fashion.
Set in the 1930s, 1950s and present day, the ballet has a stylish, modern feel far more accessible for younger audiences than most classical ballets. Through the use of hard-hitting backdrops, depicting war and terrorism, the story’s timeless quality becomes clear. So too the idea that small, familial conflicts can lead to something far more devastating.
Choreographer Krzysztof Pastor uses hand-to-hand combat rather than fancy sword play to convey violence. And real-life tenderness between the lovers, including a post-coital spoon which Romeo tries heartbreakingly to recreate with Juliet’s dead body. All of which adds to the feeling of reality – that these are ordinary human beings. Something choreography alone cannot achieve, and the Scottish Ballet dancers have risen to the challenge admirably.
From the tightly synchronised ensemble routines to the emotional pas de deux, Pastor’s choreography flows like water. Were it not for some cluttered staging, Scottish Ballet would have the perfect tragedy on their hands.