Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Romeo & Juliet
Mayflower Theatre 24-28 September
Review by Soraya Scrivener
Following my behind the scenes visit last week I was eager to hear the live music and see this World Premiere production in it’s full glory. It far exceeded my already high expectations. New Adventure’s aim to support the next generation of UK talent has proved to be a huge success. Matthew Bourne, Director and Choreographer together with his creative team and cast have put a fantastic contemporary twist to the classic Shakespearean love story and I wouldn’t want to give spoilers. As I said in my write up last week, don’t expect sword fights and feuding families, but do anticipate spectacular Bourne twists in an institution setting. Depressing? No! Exciting? Yes!
Terry Davies has done a splendid job of re-orchestrating Prokofiev’s magnificent score. The result is an intimate, exposed adaptation losing the symphonic approach and cleverly putting the focus on the spine-tingling dancing and dramatic narrative that fits so utterly well. Dan Jackson admirably conducted the accomplished 15-piece orchestra. I hope there will be a recording available.
Lez Brotherston, set and costume designer delivers the perfect atmosphere. I admired the shadows and reflections on the tiled walls throughout and the blood-stained white costumes in the closing scene.
Alan Vincent, Resident Director has rehearsed this company very well indeed and the cast’s commitment has paid off as they were perfectly in sync and always absorbed in their characters. Bourne and team have created an energetic piece with such detail to go with the music, fitting even the smallest of movement such as a head turn to the beat. Extremely satisfying! There were too many impressive scenes to mention but I was particularly engrossed with the group therapy session, the party where the dance contrasted from restrained to raunchy and the dormitory scene when inmates swapped places on and around the beds. The use of canon and chair-ography was also very pleasing.
Mercutio (Ben Brown), his boyfriend Balthasar (Asher Rosenheim) and Benvolio (João Carolino) had some entertaining lighthearted mischievous moments teasing the Reverend and dressing Romeo. In contrast Brown and Rosenheim had scene-stealing passionate and heartfelt moments throughout.
On press night Andrew Monaghan and Seren Williams performed the leading roles of Romeo and Juliet and wow, what a pair! Monaghan who I last saw at Sadlers Wells in 2018 as the dashing pilot in Cinderella is perfectly cast yet again. Williams who only joined the company in 2016 is also a joy to watch. Their passionate kissing duet was mesmerising, capturing the innocence and first love giddiness delightfully.
Danny Reubens deserved his congratulatory booing applause as Tybalt. The audience sympathise and are unnerved by his deep character at the same time. What a stage presence!
When I returned to the auditorium during the interval for Act 3 the company were already on stage. I did not think this was necessary with the dancing that followed, but as it got the dancers as well as the audience into the right emotional state to proceed, this was perhaps a clever move. For one that gets annoyed by adverts interrupting the flow of a television programme perhaps this is a solution to the interval that interrupts the continuity of such an emotional theatrical piece.
In summary, this production is a rollercoaster of youthful energy by an enthusiastic company. All the elements of this show fit beautifully together. Congratulations must not only go to the regular New Adventure’s cast but also to the 6 local cast members for this week and all the dancers making their professional debut on this tour. May your future’s be bright.
Romeo and Juliet is on at The Mayflower Theatre until Saturday. Whether you are an avid fan of Matthew Bourne or want to make this your first visit, this is a stunning night out. Further tickets have just been released for the weekend performances so you may be lucky in getting last minute tickets. You could even go again!
Also not to be missed: New Adventure’s Olivier Award winning production of The Red Shoes begins it’s 2nd tour later this year, returning to the Mayflower Theatre in March 2020.