REVIEW: Romeo and Juliet, Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Theatre review
Theatre review

There’s a freshness and lightness of touch in Northern Ballet’s new production of Romeo and Juliet that belies the familiarity of the much-told tale of doomed teenage romance.

And that’s partly because this is not the celebrated version created by Christopher Gable and Massimo Morricone 25 years ago and which has been a staple of the company’s

repertoire ever since.

Marking his 15 th year as artistic director of Northern Ballet, David Nixon, ever-enterprising, has turned to the creative team from Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and the result is something quite new and different to what’s gone before. Jean-Christophe Maillot has refreshed and updated the choreography to give the production a much more modern, less schmaltzy, feel, and NB’s fabulously talented dancers clearly relish the freedom this gives them to truly express themselves.

The two leads excel and their fledgling relationship convinces. Guiliano Contadini, charming and endearing, and Martha Leebolt’s Juliet, long-legged, coltish – and definitely not 14 thank goodness - make a delightful pairing, their characters fully realised, their bodies seemingly melded to each other. In an outstanding company, Matthew Koon’s cheeky Mercutio and Javier Torres’ brooding Tybalt also impress.

Ernest Pignon-Ernest’s unfussy white backdrops, and Jerome Kaplan’s gorgeous yet classic costumes create a matching look that’s clean, cool and contemporary. But never fear, some things can’t and never will change and Prokofiev’s familiar, much-loved and soaring score is left intact, and rousingly performed by Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

Northern Ballet return to the Lyceum next spring with a new production of Casanova.

Jane Tadman