Ballet Cymru – Romeo a Juliet

A striking performance with almost understated lighting, making terrific use of reflective surfaces (silver staves during fight scenes, silver chain drops) and classic ballet sidelight for visual effect. A properly Shakespearian adaptation. The effective use of continuous projection instead of scenery and the use of gauze-like drops made of goodness knows how much silvery chain stand out in this production. Indeed, the careful balance of light and projection, often difficult to consistently pull off, was just right. The downstage chain drops were used as gauzes, so lit, projected onto, but sometimes rendered almost insubstantial. Some sway imparted when dancers passed through them lent an extra dynamic to the choreography. Upstage they were used as scenic items, projected onto and lit to great effect. One of their great virtues is the way they caught the blue, deep amber and open white sidelight, giving a slight sparkle while convincingly carrying the projected image of foliage during the balcony scene. More silvery and convincing as moonlight than conventionally achieved.

During the fight scenes, the dusky light (just right, not too light but not the near darkness seen in some dance) provided the foil for the silver staves flashing in the side light and this combined with a projected grungy urban underpass backdrop was near perfect setting. Urban gangs with lightsabres – well almost, but much more theatrical and classy than that!

Chris Illingworth’s treatment of the final scene was perfect, with projected flickering candelabras and striking blue downlights on the chain drops. With an overhead special from SL on the bier and very little other light at stage level it was properly dramatic, Romantick gloomy tragedy. Shakespeare would surely have approved. The lady friar looked briefly like the high priestess of some ancient cult, presiding over the prostrate Juliet, somehow fitting. The final fade to black was just right, the bier special lingering just long enough to maintain that final tragic scene.

There was little technical to detract and indeed the quality of the production was particularly impressive. Minor niggles would be faces being slightly under-lit when far downstage and a fly tower winch was sometimes briefly audible over the score but nothing that really detracted from the performance.

Go see it and appreciate this young and award winning company quite rightly creating a stir in the world of ballet! You won’t regret it.