There is a moment in Derek Deane's Romeo and Juliet when everything (apart from Prokofiev's sublime score) stands still. As the title characters meet for the first time, they gaze at each other motionlessly in a kind of stunned stupor. It's exactly the feeling you get when you fall in love and the world seems, temporarily, to stop moving. This and several other brilliant moments stand out in English National Ballet's latest production.
International stars Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta excel in the lead roles. They're a couple of grinning schoolchildren as they meet at Juliet's balcony. Later, they give an impassioned and thoroughly convincing final death scene. English National Ballet dancers also sparkle as supporting characters, particularly James Streeter (Lord Capulet), who responds to his daughter's disobedience with an anger that is terrifying even from several rows back.
The ballet is performed in the round by an enormous cast, which creates some of its greatest strengths and weaknesses. On one hand, when the whole cast is together, such as in the ballroom scene, the effect is nothing short of spectacular. On the other, dancers frequently litter the edge of the stage, not only blocking the view, but also distracting from the main action in the centre.
This minor irritation aside, Romeo and Juliet is a stunning ballet, beautifully danced and well worth seeing on the grand stage of the Royal Albert Hall.
Romeo and Juliet is at the Royal Albert Hall until 22 June. Londonist received a complimentary ticket to review the show.