Rasta Thomas’ Romeo and Juliet at the Peacock
Was there ever a tale adapted more than that of Juliet and her Romeo? It’s a story that dance, screen and theatre cannot leave alone. This production was created and choreographed by Adrienne Canterna, who also dances the part of an ice-blonde and athletic Juliet. It mixes classical and contemporary music and dance.
The scenes are short and change abruptly, leaving the audience awkwardly unsure of whether to applaud or not. The music includes Prokofiev, naturally, and much Vivaldi, perhaps as the Italian’s joyous strings make him arguably one of the most accessible of the great composers. The modern music choices are a little perplexing: The Wedding scene, described in the programme as “bohemian, 60s inspired, Woodstock, Aquarius feel”, is soundtracked by Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory. The best piece of contemporary music chosen, AWOLnation’s Sail, is played in a truncated form, which is very frustrating.
The lights are sometimes blinding and the music too loud, perhaps to enforce the party, youthful feel that is not being depicted by the dancers. The costumes are mysteriously appalling; Preston Swovelin’s Romeo wears pale green sweatpants and a hideously patterned shirt for much of the performance. The corps wear bizarre one-legged leggings and so on – it is unclear what these costumes are trying to convey.
It feels a little lacklustre: the comedy moments have the audience laughing from humouring rather than humour. The choreography is sometimes repetitive and feels rushed – pretty moments are not left to linger. For instance, in Romeo and Juliet’s first pas de deux there is a sweet moment when they lie on their backs and touch palms, but this is too quickly dissolved into the next movement. There are moments that work well and stand out, however: Juliet’s simultaneously coquettish and raunchy solo to Teenage Dream, which is lit by so much pink it looks as though it is inside Barbie’s brain. The pas de deux between Romeo and Juliet have energy, their last night together is suitably passionate and absorbing. Tybalt, danced by Kyle Lucia, is furious and acrobatic, compact and surly, performing impressive flips. Pete Leo Walker’s Paris is the best thing in it, danced with smarmy verve.
Ultimately, the production lacks the stately majesty of traditional ballet but also the body-punishing intensity and innovation of hip hop dancing. It is an interesting idea, but stumbles in the execution.
Rasta Thomas’ Romeo and Juliet is on at Peacock Theatre until 29th March 2015, for further information or to book visit here.