Shakespeare...Without Words: Romeo And Juliet At Royal Opera House

Romeo and Juliet, Royal Opera House ★★★★☆

Hannah Foulds
By Hannah Foulds Last edited 9 months ago

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Shakespeare...Without Words: Romeo And Juliet At Royal Opera House Romeo and Juliet, Royal Opera House 4
Matthew Ball as Romeo and Lauren Cuthbertson as Juliet. ©ROH, 2019. Photo: Helen Maybanks

It’s an odd choice to build a ballet around a Shakespeare play. You know, Shakespeare… one of the greatest wordsmiths of all time. Surely a Shakespeare play without words is like a trifle without custard?

And if there’s a part of you that wonders whether such an angry and passionate play could be translated into a ballet, you’d be right to question it. Watching a street gang face-off with pirouettes and plies does take some of the punch out of the scene... although, one dud grand jeté and you could take someone’s eye out.

Matthew Ball as Romeo. ©ROH, 2019. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Joking aside, there is a dream-like quality to this performance that transcends the original play and turns it into something quite different. A scene packed-full of ballerinas turns the stage into a moving portrait and the stunning costumes, impressive set and flawless dancing keeps the audience engrossed in this three-part performance. It feels like a renaissance painting that’s magically come to life.

Matthew Ball as Romeo and Lauren Cuthbertson as Juliet. ©ROH, 2019. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Where angry passion is dampened through graceful movements, it’s quickly rekindled through the dramatic music by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, with Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knight (otherwise known these days as The Apprentice theme tune) punctuating the performance .

This is a stunning performance, but disappointingly very inaccessible to many. Not only are the seats highly priced (unless you’re quick enough to nab one of the few remaining cheap seats up in the gods), but the lack of diversity on both the stage and in the audience is striking.

Matthew Ball as Romeo and Lauren Cuthbertson as Juliet. ©ROH, 2019. Photo: Helen Maybanks

So, if you’re lucky to be able to afford it, it’s worth a visit. If not, perhaps a night in with a custard-laden trifle instead?

Romeo and Juliet, Royal Opera House, Bow Street, WC2E 9DD. Tickets £8-£130, until 11 June 2019.

Last Updated 28 March 2019