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Dance REVIEW: Matthew Bourne's: Romeo + Juliet - ★★★

Matthew Bourne's Romeo + Juliet returns in Summer 2023.

After dazzling audiences when it was first staged in 2019, Romeo and Juliet now joins the New Adventures repertoire alongside the very best of Bourne’s world-renowned dance theatre productions.

Experience Shakespeare’s timeless story of forbidden love with a scintillating injection of raw passion and youthful vitality. Confined against their will by a society that seeks to divide, our two young lovers must follow their hearts as they risk everything to be together. A masterful re-telling of an ageless tale of teenage discovery and the madness of first love.



Festival Theatre Edinburgh, until 23rd September


Stewart - ★★★

"Adaptation can be a funny old thing! Romeo + Juliet is of course one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time, continuously retold and reimagined from Shakespeare's initial story of two star crossed lovers who come to an untimely end in the greatest (?) romantic tragedy of all time. But when does an adaptation become so far removed from the original source it becomes its own entity?

Matthew Bourne’s take on the Romeo + Juliet ballet, along with the gorgeous music from Prokofiev (you’ll recognize a few!), is here set in Verona Institute. It’s unclear if it’s a borstal, school, experimental laboratory, or hospital but it’s giving shades of all the above. Gone are the family feuds and the focus is more set on the theme of youth fighting against the older generation. So, it goes all a bit Grease meets The Hunger Games. So where does Romeo + Juliet themselves fit into all this, unfortunately almost sidelined by the staging, it’s so busy and involved in the reimagining that they are almost pawns in their own story. There’s no emotional connection to the characters as we’re introduced to so many of them, so why does R+J take any precedent over anyone else when then there’s other teenagers in love? Thankfully there are a few sparse moments where the two dancers are given time to explore their love at first sight angle, but the pull/push of their inner conflict from the original source is noticeably lacking.

When the deaths all take awkward new spins and Tybalt is strangely portrayed as a sadistic prison guard, it all just feels that we have entirely lost the essence of the play itself. It seems like a bit of a misfire from the usually outstanding work expected from Matthew Bourne.

Now I’m going to be clear that the reviews for this have been extremely positive, so I very well could be the odd one out here. The staging is stunning, the choreography and strength and craftsmanship of the dancers is beautiful to watch and that music – fantastic! It’s just when it comes to Matthew Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet, I’d rather have Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet – or even Gnomeo and Juliet (at least they changed the name!)"


Make sure you have booked in for the latest DRAMA CLASSES at Mix Up Theatre throughout Scotland :)


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