After a long 20 months, the Birmingham Royal Ballet returned to their home last night, as Romeo and Juliet opened at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Carlos Acosta himself took to the stage to welcome ballet lovers back before an incredibly emotionally charged performance of Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece.
Romeo and Juliet is one of my favourite ballets. Every element is simply perfect, from the soaring score from Prokofiev to the majestic sets that transport the watcher to 16th century Verona. It is a ballet that combines moments of pure beauty and romance with scenes of virile masculinity and brutal deaths.
I don’t need to retell the story of Romeo and Juliet, it is one of the best known tales of all, and the ballet is true to the Shakespeare version. Mimoko Hirata is a perfect Juliet, her slight frame and petite prettiness makes you totally respond to both her joy and pain, particularly in the dreamy balcony scene, and later, more hauntingly, in the bedroom scene with her second suitor Paris, where she backs away from him, en pointe, to incredible effect.
As Romeo, Cesar Morales has the physical presence and masculinity that makes such a winning contrast to Hirata, bringing a beautiful resonance to their romance. In the earlier scenes there is a fabulous, fun chemistry between himself and Tzu-Chao Chou as Mercutio, and Haoliang Feng as Benvolio, this frivolity makes the later scenes of Mercutio’s death even more shocking and effective. Rory Mackay is an effective foil for Morales as Tybalt, with the death scene of both the Montague Mercutio and the Capulet Tybalt being an standout scene due to the incredible ballet and swordsmanship that is on display.
The ending is wonderful, with a full gamut of emotions so beautifully conveyed, leaving the audience feeling bereft and heartbroken.
Romeo and Juliet is something that must be experienced at least once in your life. The Birmingham Royal Ballet deliver a spectacle that is astonishing in its beauty and violence. A must see.
Birmingham Royal Ballet – Romeo and Juliet
Thu 7 Oct – Sat 9 Oct
Tickets from £26
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