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Review: Romeo and Juliet @ Birmingham Hippodrome

This Tuesday night performance was an extra one owing to popular demand, and from the minute the curtain went up on the hot afternoon light of Verona’s main square, bursting with rich renaissance colours we knew we were in for a sumptuous treat. In addition BRB had pulled out all the stops, packing the stage with their most reliable stars. Yet in the crowded opening scene it was the company’s ballet mistress Marion Tait as Lady Capulet who managed to upstage even this accomplished crew by her simple, imperious gestures as the matron of a great clan, powerful, implacable, so soon to be humbled by fate. Even more arresting in a later scene was her Greek-tragedy inspired mime of abandoned grief at Tybalt’s death.

Virtuoso principal Nao Sakuma, who more usually excels as one of the ice-goddesses of the classical repertoire impressed from the start with her interpretation of the role of Juliet, from her child-like reaction to aristocratic suitor Paris right through her tragic, brief journey via marriage and womanhood to an untimely death.

Nao’s partner, the normally explosive Chi Cao seemed unusually muted as Romeo, theatre’s most famous lover, while rival golden boy Robert Parker was simply too sunny as hot-headed killer Tybalt. Reversing this casting would redress the imbalance. The excellent Alexander Campbell seemed similarly miscast, too solid and masculine for the glittering, flamboyant Mercutio.

It was great to see Macmillan’s greatest ballet again, but to me performances seemed a tad “careful” lacking the extra zip needed to make this meticulously-constructed tragedy whip relentlessly on to its heart-breaking end. Applause at the end was respectful rather than ecstatic, but I put this down to Tuesday night nerves which should be exorcised over the rest of the week’s run.

Romeo and Juliet runs until October 2. For Ticket sales phone 0844 338 5000 or go online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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