The English National Ballet’s interpretation of Romeo and Juliet casts a renaissance masterpiece over Manchester’s Palace Theatre
This marriage of Shakespeare’s tragic tale, Prokofiev’s beautiful score, and Rudolf Nureyev’s exhilarating choreography, is indisputably one of the best. The tragedy of the two most infamous star-crossed lovers sweeps the audience off to Renaissance Verona and drops them amongst the bustling market traders and the warring Montagues and Capulets.
The audience are immediately captivated by the two families—sporting contrasting colours, full of pride for their own, and hatred for the other’s. The incredible group choreography demonstrates the wonderful synchronicity of the English National Ballet, who perfectly capture the conflict. The petty fighting between the families within Act I is perfect foreshadowing of the tragic events to come.
The opulent surroundings of the Palace Theatre are perfect for the Capulet’s masked ball, where Romeo and Juliet finally meet. The romance and tension is more than palpable through the beautiful performances of the two principles. Isaac Hernandez demonstrated the perfect blend of passion, naivety and loyalty, eventually resulting in his exile from Verona, whilst Allna Cajocaru’s young charm and elegance matched up perfectly to create beautiful on-stage chemistry; every duet oozed sensuality and romance.
After the romance and beauty portrayed at the end of Act I with the beautiful balcony scene, the violence and tragedy is massively amped up in the second. The extremely likeable character of Mercutio (Cesar Corrales), who has buckets of charisma and charm, comes to his tragic end after an intense encounter with Juliet’s cousin Tybalt (James Streeter). Two excellent performances, portraying such tragedy, and perfectly representing the Venetian attitudes towards loyalty and revenge.
The overall performance was full of the twists and turns that you would expect from any enactment of Romeo and Juliet, but the portrayal through such beautiful balletic choreography, along with the instantly recognisable music, massively added to the romantic intensity. There’s no doubt that it will leave you with tears in your eyes, and a desperate ache to be able to change the tragic ending of the much-loved classic.