Reviews Round-Up: The Royal Ballet, Romeo And Juliet @ O2

Released from the plush, gilt safety of the Royal Opera House would the Royal Ballet be able to pull off a performance of ballet classic, Romeo and Juliet in the vast arena at North Greenwich?

Ballet shoes and costumes backstage at the O2 by the Ballet Bag

Building anticipation, the Ballet Bag bloggers got there especially early and took some great photos of the empty arena, rehearsals and backstage area. From a performer’s eye view the arena looks enormous.

What did the reviewers think?

Freed from the ‘no food and drink, no latecomers’ etiquette of Covent Garden meant hot dogs, beer and popcorn accompanied the tragic action, and – as at a pop concert – people could come and go as they pleased. The New York Times spoke to some audience members and calls the event a “grand experiment in democracy, a way for ballet to break free from its rarefied, elitist image”.

But Ismene Brown – stuck between programme riflers, beer slurpers and tardy ticket holders – loved the show but laments the audience’s “who cares” attitude

Graham Watts saw the “production deconstruct all preconceptions of how ballet should be presented” with minimal set changes and film additions, both explaining the plot and showing off stage action in both senses of the word.

There’s praise for the principal dancers – performing both for the 10,000 strong audience and for the cameras bringing close ups to big screens – from Zoe Anderson in the Independent.

Whilst veteran FT critic Clement Crisp – he who is never seen without a hanky poking smartly out his breast pocket – may have been terrified by the characterless multiplex style venue he offers high praise when he concludes it “works very well indeed”.

Dance critics on Twitter – using the brilliant hashtag #romeO2 – said:

@lyndseywinship real emotional impact at #royalballet #RomeO2 thx to close-ups of lovely Tamara. big up to the big screens – surprisingly effective

@LukeJennings1 #Romeo2 The main thing though, the really mind-blowing thing, was seeing that sea of people – 10,000 of them – AT A BALLET!

And what did the paying punters think?

@sarahp119 Really loved textures & evocative imagery in brilliant films by Balletboyz for #RomeO2. DVD please!

@SeeHearLive Can’t wipe the smile of my face :-) :-) #jolina #RomeO2

@Hescottburke I laughed. I cried. I fell in love!! Thank you Edward and @LondonBallerina !!!! #RomeO2 #RomeoandJuliet

@balletteachers Is it just me or anyone else not keen on the hotdog sauce thing outside every door? #RomeO2

@may_kwok Only gripe about #RomeO2. No free cast sheet available. Hmph. But otherwise loved it and think the #RoyalBallet should do O2 more often.

@pim2005 On such a MASSIVE ballet high after #romeo2

Yep, we wish we’d got tickets and gone now.

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Lindsey2014

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  • Robin

    This is somewhat surprising to see as all the reviews I heard from people who went said it really didn’t work in an arena setting and was about as passionate as one of the aforementioned hotdogs!
    That said, I’m sure the cast were excellent in their roles, just the setting that let them down.

  • Robin

    This is somewhat surprising to see as all the reviews I heard from people who went said it really didn’t work in an arena setting and was about as passionate as one of the aforementioned hotdogs!
    That said, I’m sure the cast were excellent in their roles, just the setting that let them down.

  • Anonymous

    Well, if all the reviewers sat in the area with expensive, 100-odd quid tickets, then I’m sure it worked for them… For the plebeians, like myself, sitting on the fourth tier – gazillion miles away from stage – it didn’t work as well… But I do like the idea of bringing ballet to a new audience… 

  • Anonymous

    Well, if all the reviewers sat in the area with expensive, 100-odd quid tickets, then I’m sure it worked for them… For the plebeians, like myself, sitting on the fourth tier – gazillion miles away from stage – it didn’t work as well… But I do like the idea of bringing ballet to a new audience…