HomeMagazineListingsUpdateLinksContexts

 


 Ballet.co Postings Pages

 Some Special Threads:
  GPDTalk about George Piper Dances ! NEW !
  NBTTalk about Northern Ballet Theatre
  SBTalk about Scottish Ballet
  ENBTalk about English National Ballet
  BRBTalk about Birmingham Royal Ballet
  TodaysLinks - worldwide daily dance links
  Ballet.co GetTogethers - meetings and drinks...

  Help on New Postings


Subject: "ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool" Archived thread - Read only
 
  Previous Topic | Next Topic
Printer-friendly copy     Email this topic to a friend    
Conferences What's Happening Topic #2537
Reading Topic #2537
Helen

05-03-02, 12:24 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
"ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
 
   ENB's revival of Nureyev's Romeo and Juliet opens in Liverpool tonight. There is a full page interview with Patricia Ruanne (the original Juliet) in today's Liverpool Daily Post, with two beautiful colour photos, one of her and Nureyev as Romeo and Juliet, and one of her with Daria Klimentova, tonight's Juliet. I don't think there is an available link.

She says that she met her partner (in life as well as in ballet), Frederic Jahn, while she was dancing Louise and he King Rat in Hynd's Nutcracker in Liverpool. They now have "a dream house on the side of a mountain deep in the rainforests of Guadeloupe where humming birds fly in through the windows", which sounds rather nice!

She says that the role of Juliet was made "on her, not for her." I like her comment that "Rudi had a fixed idea that in Shakespeare's day a boy would have played Juliet. If he could have found a boy to dance on pointe I would never have got the role."

I shall be there tonight and will report in due course.


  Printer-friendly page | Top

  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Helen 05-03-02 1
     RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Helen 06-03-02 2
         RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Richard Jones 06-03-02 3
             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool alison 07-03-02 4
                 RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Helen 07-03-02 5
                     RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Helen 10-03-02 6
                         RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool AEHandley 10-03-02 7
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Helen 10-03-02 8
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool MikeC 10-03-02 9
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Helen 11-03-02 10
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Paul A 13-03-02 11
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool katharine kanter 14-03-02 12
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Helen 14-03-02 13
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Paul A 15-03-02 16
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool AEHandley 14-03-02 14
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Paul A 15-03-02 17
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool AEHandley 14-03-02 15
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool Richard Jones 27-03-02 18
                             RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool alison 28-03-02 19
         ... and Southampton alison 28-03-02 20

Conferences | Topics | Previous Topic | Next Topic
Helen

05-03-02, 12:48 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #0
 
   I see that Brendan has found a link!


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Helen

06-03-02, 02:45 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
2. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 06-03-02 AT 05:19 PM (GMT)

I duly went along yesterday evening for the first night of this revival of Nureyev's Romeo and Juliet for ENB. I don't usually like first nights - too tense - but ENB had given me a complimentary ticket after the cancellation of Nutcracker in December. (My conscience made me buy one for Saturday as well.) The theatre appeared to be full, presumably with other non-payers.

Nureyev's R&J does not, surprisingly perhaps, revolve around Romeo, or even around Juliet. The key to it is the idea of Fate, of Death, sinisterly omnipresent. From the opening with its semi-naked, pale-faced gamblers dicing with death, followed by a huge (and noisy) cart loaded with corpses - a reference to the plague -we are in no doubt that this story is about doom, danger and disaster. Ezio Frigerio's designs - richly coloured costumes, colour coded for Montagues (greenish) and Capulets (red), and distant backgrounds of domes and pillars, sometimes vague, sometimes with a Canaletto-like clarity - are strong and effective, though I don't think they equal the Georgiadis ones.

The choreography is certainly difficult - I spent the first act worrying about the dancers, which I don't think is how it should be. I found it often curiously graceless, even awkward, and also frequently unmusical, odd for so musical a dancer. I really don't think it was the dancers' fault that they often had difficulty fitting the steps to the music. I was reminded of a comment by either Edur or Oaks: "It is over-choreographed. Lovely steps, but no time to look in each other's eyes." Exactly.

The humour is not exactly subtle - lots of face-pulling, bottom-wiggling and gesturing. It is very recognisably Nureyev's humour, the same as in Cinderella. A lot of it falls to Mercutio, of whom more later.

The second act, leading to the deaths of Tybalt and Mercutio, is the most successful - it has the tightest dramatic construction, though the wedding of Romeo and Juliet in the chapel is very strange indeed, with much contortion and twining. I really did not understand what Nureyev was getting at here. In the third act, where the dramatic screw should be tightening, there are too many deviations. The scene where Juliet contemplates suicide is confusing unless you are very familiar with the play, and far too long. The death-and-doom theme teeters on the edge of absurdity when the lines (luckily given prominence in the programme) "Come, nurse, I'll to my wedding bed/And Death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead" are taken too literally. Juliet lies down on the bed, and a black-cloaked figure with a skull-like face (Death, presumably) lies on top of her.

This is followed by the premature celebrations of the wedding of Paris and Juliet, which of course never takes place. The mandolin dance is here, and an ensemble wedding dance beautifully costumed in white and cream. All this detracts from the drama, as it seems to be merely a standard wedding divertissement, though I think the idea is to contrast it with the discovery of the apparently dead Juliet, so that the wedding turns into a funeral. At some point, though I now can't remember where (I told you it wss confusing) there is a very complex and highly dangerous dance with flags. One or two of the flags were dropped, but nobody actually lost an eye as far as I could see, which was a miracle.

There are then scenes in Mantua, where Romeo is exiled, before the denouement and deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Sadly, I didn't feel moved.

I am aware that there is a lot of carping in this review, so I'll end with some praise. My admiration of the dancers for coping with this ballet is boundless. There were some wonderful performances. Daria Klimentova threw herself into her role of Juliet with total commitment and passion. She is a lovely dancer, light as a leaf, with feet like needles, and also a very strong personality that could hold the stage. She was also the most musical - it shows it can be done, even with this choreography. Jan-Erik Witstrom as Romeo started wwith a beautifully danced solo, but his character never really emerged, and at times he and Paris (Juanjo Arques) were almost indistinguishable. I'm sure this will improve with time. Yat- Sen Chang was a remarkable Mercutio, dealing with all the so-called humour with relish and high energy, very impressive. Cameron McMillan's gentler Benvolio was a good contrast. Praise also for Gary Avis's strongly projected Tybalt, another excellent performance.

The orchestra under Anthony Twiner had a few first-night glitches, notably some doubtful brass playing, but again I feel it just needs time to settle. This is why I don't like first nights.

If I have the energy I will go on Saturday as well, if only to see if the corps are still alive, and if the performance generally has started to relax.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Richard Jones

06-03-02, 09:32 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Richard%20Jones Click to send private message to Richard%20Jones Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #2
 
   Helen

Thank you for this detailed appraisal of R & J; it comes to Bristol just before Easter. Sorry to hear that the orchestra wasn't quite up to the job, despite having Mr Twiner in charge. The ENB orchestra has long suffered from too many deps. and too little rehearsal time, and this needs to be sorted out. Presumably the casting will be Thomas and Agnes on Saturday? If you have/hear any thoughts about the various casts, do post them here! Thanks.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
alison

07-03-02, 01:46 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
4. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #3
 
   Oaks and Edur aren't appearing with them - I think they're guesting somewhere, as they did last spring.

Interested to hear Helen's report. I have to admit to preferring ENB's Ashton version, and wishing they hadn't got rid of it, but to what extent I've been influenced by the relative merits of the casts I've seen I don't know. I seem to remember finding with the Nureyev that there were too many steps, too much action and not enough concentration on the lovers at the centre, but will try to get down to Southampton and see it again before I comment properly.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Helen

07-03-02, 05:05 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
5. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #4
 
   >I seem to
>remember finding with the Nureyev
>that there were too many
>steps, too much action and
>not enough concentration on the
>lovers at the centre

That just about sums it up, Alison.

I don't know who I'll see on Saturday, but I'm going in the afternoon, so it will be the very young ones, I expect. And an audience of children, no doubt.

Apologies for all the typing errors in my review above. I was interrupted while doing it the first time, and had to do it again in great haste.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Helen

10-03-02, 09:56 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
6. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #5
 
   On Saturday afternoon Monica Perego danced Juliet and Dmitru Gruzdyev was Romeo. Mercutio was Jesus Pastor. Alexis Oliveira and Sarah Arnott made confident debuts as Benvolio and the Nurse.

Perego's Juliet is a strong and wilful girl, spoilt and determined. Her very athletic style of dancing does not appeal to me, and I much preferrred Klimentova. Gruzdyev's Kirov training wasn't as obvious as one might expect, and there was little to choose between his Romeo and Wikstrom's. (This choreography is so clearly made for Nureyev himself that, although I didn't see him in this version, I couldn't help seeing all the way through what he would have done with it. In particular I missed the angles of neck and head that he would have brought to the line - this generation of dancers do not appear to think that the head is important.)

Jesus Pastor was a lively Mercutio, and I was more impressed than ever by Gary Avis's Tybalt, though he looks unnervingly like a young Simon Rattle. His personality is powerful and his dancing very stylish.

Generally I got more out of the ballet this time. It was, as I expected, a more polished performance than the first night, with many fewer mistakes. The flag dance - it's in Act 2 - went without a hitch this time, though it reminded me irresistibly of baton-twirling majorettes. The orchestra under Martin West played very well indeed; I suspect they were simply underreheased on Tuesday. In big theatres like the Liverpool Empire they have 15 extra players, which can't help with co-ordination until they are used to each other.

I was still not happy with the choreography. Nureyev uses both his classical background and his experience of modern dance, and the mixture is often unhappy. The bedroom pas de deux consists entirely of complex lifts and and contortions - it looks clumsy, and does not to me express what presumably it is trying to express. In neither performance did I really get the impression that this was a love story, which can't be right for the most famous love story of all time.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
AEHandley

10-03-02, 03:00 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail AEHandley Click to send private message to AEHandley Click to add this user to your buddy list  
7. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #6
 
   (This choreography
>is so clearly made for
>Nureyev himself that, although I
>didn't see him in this
>version, I couldn't help seeing
>all the way through what
>he would have done with
>it. In particular I missed
>the angles of neck and
>head that he would have
>brought to the line -
>this generation of dancers do
>not appear to think that
>the head is important.)
>
Helen, you're one of many people who are saying this at the moment and now you've got me thinking. Can you give any examples of "this generation" who do use head and epaulement adequately? (given that you didn't seem as much as 10 years older than me when we met, and I'm only just old enough to retire as a dancer (same age as Deborah Bull) I find it quite amusing to see your comments as if from Clement Crisp!)


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Helen

10-03-02, 04:24 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
8. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #7
 
   Gosh, thanks - I'm nine years younger than Clement Crisp, so you can go to your ballet dictionary and work it out. Perhaps the light was very dim.

The epaulement thing is something I notice all the time; I can't think of any I've seen recently who have it as much as I would like, except perhaps Sarah Wildor, and Elisabeth Platel and maybe some other French dancers of her generation, but the ENB always strike me as particularly bad - marvellous feet and legs, most of them, but not much from the waist up. I'm more likely to notice when it isn't there than when it is. I must study my video of Alina! I think it's just one of the side effects of the ever-increasing desire for extreme virtuosity.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
MikeC

10-03-02, 07:02 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail MikeC Click to send private message to MikeC Click to add this user to your buddy list  
9. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #8
 
   >I must study my video of Alina!

Helen, is this the Nutcracker? or do you have another video of Alina?


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Helen

11-03-02, 12:37 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
10. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #9
 
   It's the Nutcracker, but as soon as there is another one I shall buy it!


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Paul A

13-03-02, 03:32 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Paul%20A Click to send private message to Paul%20A Click to add this user to your buddy list  
11. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #10
 
   Helen, your thoughts capture exactly what I felt when this was new (to Manchester in 1978) - unmusical and clumsy.

Not much more reconciled to it in the mid-80s when Nureyev appeared as Mercutio. By then too old to cope with all the fiddly steps he busked it doing anything he felt like. Benvolio and Romeo didn't know what to expect.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
katharine kanter

14-03-02, 04:13 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail katharine%20kanter Click to send private message to katharine%20kanter Click to add this user to your buddy list  
12. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #11
 
   There is no-one left dancing today who uses épaulement properly, and certainly not among the women. Men are a bit luckier, because, except perhaps for Messrs Ruzimatov and Tsiskaridze, they do not twine their legs about their neck. Nevertheless, the only men I can think of off-hand who actually use épaulement in every step, are Thomas Lund, at the Royal Ballet in Denmark, and Emmanuel Thibault at the POB (a pupil of Noëlla Pontois).

It is not the fault of the dancers.

It is impossible, physically impossible, to produce épaulement and a hyper-extension at the same time. Try it yourself, if you're still fit enough: pick that leg up, squeeze it up against the ear, ŕ la seconde, or against the nose, devant, or up against the back of your head, in arabesque, and then try to place the body properly in épaulement.

Did it work ? Be truthful !

In the dancing of women today, the entire body is destabilised by those hyper-extensions. The central axis is twisted , the centre of gravity is displaced, wrongly, there is no plumb line, neither on the flat foot, nor on pointe.

And the demand by teachers and choreographers for ever-more sensationalist tricks, ever-more energy (sometimes I think the people on stage are on amphetamines), subjects the dancers to the equivalent of production-line speed-up. They have no time to concentrate on placing the head and neck, nor on how to use the eyes.

Five hundred years of history out the window. Bring in the wrecker's ball ! Throw down Bologna and Sienna ! Why not !

That is how I feel watching ballet today, as others sup their fill on "banana feet", hip-popping extensions, and jaw-dropping contortions...


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Helen

14-03-02, 04:59 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
13. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #12
 
   Thank you, Katharine, for that interesting theory. You are quite right about the eyes, as well.

Paul, I was very careful not to go to see Nureyev in the 1980s - I would have found it unbearable.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Paul A

15-03-02, 07:52 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Paul%20A Click to send private message to Paul%20A Click to add this user to your buddy list  
16. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #13
 
   You are lucky Helen. 1982 was my first sighting - odd flashes of what the legend is about, occasional sequences of brilliance.

In 1983 at the Manchester Palace he reduced a Don Quixote matinee audience to hysteria. A couple of years later in Spectre you could physically see him panting hard trying to stay airborne. But for presence and drama, connecting with the audience he was still a star.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
AEHandley

14-03-02, 09:56 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail AEHandley Click to send private message to AEHandley Click to add this user to your buddy list  
14. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #12
 
   It is impossible, physically impossible, to
>produce épaulement and a hyper-extension
>at the same time.

But this is irrelevant. Even Sylvie doesn't spend an entire ballet with her foot by her ear. Most of the time it isn't an issue. Come to that, I think I'd be just as sick of permanent epaulement as you are of permanent hyperextensions - it would be equally vulgar and inappropriate. I don't believe that there are no dancers who use their shoulders properly. Come on someone, back me up here! (I'm sure I've seen Wildor and Yoshida do a reasonable job, at least)


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Paul A

15-03-02, 07:54 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Paul%20A Click to send private message to Paul%20A Click to add this user to your buddy list  
17. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #14
 
   Makarova in Swan Lake - wonderful rippling shoulders as she faced upstage to exit in act 2.

But that was 1980.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
AEHandley

14-03-02, 09:58 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail AEHandley Click to send private message to AEHandley Click to add this user to your buddy list  
15. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #8
 
   Well, I'd never have guessed if you hadn't told me about your grown up son!


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Richard Jones

27-03-02, 10:10 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Richard%20Jones Click to send private message to Richard%20Jones Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
18. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #15
 
   LAST EDITED ON 28-03-02 AT 00:03 AM (GMT)

ENB has now reached Bristol with Nureyev's R & J, and I have to say that I concur with Helen about this production. The dancers have a very busy time, but (as Shakespeare almost wrote on another occasion) there is a great deal of sound and fury signifying not very much.

The first act I did not enjoy at all. The music is chopped about, and obvious references in the score to the development of the drama are missed. At times it reminded me of one of those ice skating routines where you could change the music and it would work just as well. I'm not sure about the effectiveness of the off-beat stamping in one of the dances either. The music for the ballroom scene was played too slowly; whether this was intentional (because of the choreography) or just a matter of how it turned out last night, I don't know. Whatever the reason, the music which follows the famously strong 'Dance of the Knights' was absolutely leaden, and there was therefore no sense of celebration or exhilaration (perhaps the idea is that the ballroom is also haunted by death - why do the men have to start wielding hefty swords before plunging them into a sheet held at the back of the stage? Strange happenings at a ball - more like the dark goings-on typical of a male-only secret society).

The balcony scene pdd seems to misfire; there is a great deal of R and J chasing about, but they don't seem to be involved with each other. There are moments in the score when, through repetition of themes and more intense orchestration (put the violins up another octave, fill out the texture, etc,etc), Prokofiev makes this music sound incredibly passionate; the choreography just doesn't respond.

The second act is much tighter, though here again death pervades all; the dancing friar (I couldn't get that bit either, Helen) seems to need to use a skull as well as his bunch of herbs to conduct clandestine weddings. Overall, though, this is the most successful act, with the best choreography for the blokes in groups. Also, the fights leading to the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt are very effective (were they staged by someone not acknowledged?). At this point I have to say I hope that Gary Avis (who played Tybalt) is in ENB to stay.

The third act starts well enough, with a better pdd for R & J, but - with 7 scenes - it becomes so fragmented, and noisy scene changes don't help. Nureyev's attempt to stay close to Shakespeare falls apart when the going gets complicated. As the Bristol Evening Post reviewer put it, "without a good working knowledge of this classic tragic romance you would have been hard put to it to follow the twists and turns of the plot". (At one point, fairly early on, the little girl behind me whispered to her parents "where are we?" - "You may well ask", I thought).

I couldn't understand what Mercutio was doing lurking about when Juliet was about to take the drug. If you happen to know the play, it's posible to work out that Tybalt appears in the production at this point because Juliet (in the play) thinks she sees Tybalt's ghost "...stay,Tybalt, stay! Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee." (Act IV Scene iii). Yes, you could work it out if you know the play; but if you don't know the play, Nureyev's ballet is very confusing. Mercutio is not mentioned by Juliet at this point in the play, so a choreographer who wants to stick to Shakespeare shouldn't be introducing him at this point. Also, for the record, Friar John doesn't get mugged on the road to Mantua (as in this production); he can't take Friar Lawrence's letter to Romeo because of the plague.

As Helen has suggested, the production seems to be dominated by death and destruction; topping and tailing it with the cavorting quartet of bald dicers-with-death in their jock-straps said as much. The cart of corpses behaved itself till it was taken into the wings; there was then much off-stage creaking to dispose of it. Although the designs have many fine aspects, I found the brick wall efect in the wings to add to the gloominess; this reminded me more of the nether regions of certain London railway stations than Renaissance Italy.

The ENB orchestra, has I think, improved in recent years in general (it needed to), but again I would agree with our local reporter that the playing was efficient rather than memorable. I had a good view of the orchestra, and enjoyed watching the violinists doubling as mandolin players (having a fine old time, they were). However, Anthony Twiner's direction is of the undemonstrative school of conducting. Of course, it is essential in the theatre to hold stage and pit together, and for that clarity is a first requirement. But there didn't seem to be much involvement with the music. So, for instance, if the horns wanted to have a ball, they did; in fact the brass in general took every opportunity for having a good blow.

I would agree with the headline in the Bristol Evening Post: "A lukewarm love affair". There's more thought put into the bawdy humour (complete with intentional and unintentional groping) than there is into the love affair at the centre of the play - it just doesn't ignite.

This company has some strong performers, so my sympathies are with the dancers who have such a hefty evening; later in the year they are back here with more than a week of Nutcracker...........(we are not even allowed two nights of a refreshing triple to cleanse our palates before sweetie-time).At least I can get a train ticket to London and escape such restricted rep.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
alison

28-03-02, 05:12 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
19. "RE: ENB's Romeo and Juliet in Liverpool"
In response to message #18
 
   (perhaps the idea
>is that the ballroom is
>also haunted by death -
>why do the men have
>to start wielding hefty swords
>before plunging them into a
>sheet held at the back
>of the stage?

If you think about it, the flag or whatever it is is actually in the Montague colours, so it's actually a demonstration of strength/enmity on the part of the Capulets.
>
>I have to say I
>hope that Gary Avis (who
>played Tybalt) is in ENB
>to stay.

He is, apparently!

Also, for
>the record, Friar John doesn't
>get mugged on the road
>to Mantua (as in this
>production); he can't take Friar
>Lawrence's letter to Romeo because
>of the plague.

A bit difficult to show onstage without words, though, isn't it?


  Printer-friendly page | Top
alison

28-03-02, 05:51 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
20. "... and Southampton"
In response to message #2
 
   I saw two performances, a matinee and part of an evening performance. Highlights of the latter for me were the Mercutio of Yosvani Ramos, who brought all his extrovert charisma to the part and really brought out the sometimes bawdy humour, and the Tybalt of Gary Avis, by far the best I've seen in this production and one of the most powerful in any production I've seen. I had noticed at the end of his time with the Royal Ballet that he appeared to be developing as a very promising dance actor, but he has obviously grown considerably in stature (seemingly physically as well, although the dancers in ENB generally aren’t as tall as his former RB colleagues!) in the time that he has been away. He was a powerful presence whenever he was onstage, and in this production it was a pleasure to see another side of the character, equally well portrayed, as an indulgent, almost doting, cousin to Juliet: a more fully-rounded approach than the rather one-dimensional villain seen in some productions. (It occurred to me later to wonder whether Nureyev, knowing that he was scheduled to dance Romeo at all the original performances, had beefed up the roles for the supporting men in order to placate London Festival Ballet's male principals).

The production as a whole is an attractive one, the set being restricted to suitably Italianate backcloths, steps up to a permanent platform at the back of the stage, and vertical panels in front which slide in and out or are flown in as required to suggest changes of location. A plague-ridden Verona of tension, violence and brutality is depicted – the Prince's guards even carry whips. This atmosphere is reflected in the vicious and physical street brawls, into which the corps throw themselves with relish. In fact, in Nureyev's concern to show all the environmental factors affecting the lovers, there is so much happening around the edges that the characters of Romeo and Juliet seem to be rather squeezed out of the action. This must have made a good contrast to the company's other, Ashton, production, which concentrates on the lovers virtually to the exclusion of everything else, but it does leave the lead dancers with an uphill task in trying to put over their tragedy effectively. Nor are they helped by Nureyev's choreography, which in the "balcony" scene is short on interaction (they seem to spend much of their time not even looking at each other) and rather unmusical, surprising for a dancer generally reckoned to be musical. Their earlier pas de deux in the ballroom is more innocent, less sexually aware, than in some other productions, and their bedroom pas de deux is rather clinical in its passion. Coupled with some partnering which looked as though it was tricky for the sake of being tricky (and which must cause major problems if last-minute changes in pairings need to be made), I wasn't convinced that their passion was enough to make Juliet defy her father, let alone death. Indeed, judging by his choreography, I was left wondering whether Nureyev didn't actually have a greater affinity with Mercutio than Romeo, despite creating the latter role for himself.

Of the casts I saw, the evening cast was much more sharply delineated and more fluent in performance, understandably since they had probably had rather more performances under their belts. From my admittedly very skewed viewing angle, Dmitri Gruzdyev appeared to be dancing better than I had seen him for some considerable time. Possibly because of the problems of the choreography I mentioned above, his rapport with Monica Perego's Juliet did not appear that great, although she was good on her own. One thing jarred: at the end of the duel with Tybalt, Romeo's sole emotions appeared to be anger and hatred, rather than horror at the realisation of what he'd done, which was rather odd given Romeo's reluctance to pick up a sword and fight Tybalt in this production.

Of the matinee cast, Ramos' Romeo was again the one who made the strongest impression. I recently reread an interview with him in which he said he would love to dance Romeo, but the implication was that his lack of stature would probably prevent this. Fortunately this wasn't so, and he turned in a very creditable performance. Although initially I found his interpretation a little too close to his version of Mercutio, his portrayal soon developed into a dramatic and genuinely moving one, which in fact was helped by his size and youthful appearance, which made him look vulnerable, and he is the only Romeo I've seen over the years in this production who made his despairing backward dives into Benvolio's arms on learning of Juliet's supposed death look effortless and natural. As I indicated above, the rest of the matinee cast had less depth than the evening one, but the experience of a few more performances should bring improvements. All in all, an enjoyable enough production, and performed well by the company, but still lacking where its heart should be.


  Printer-friendly page | Top

Conferences | Topics | Previous Topic | Next Topic

 
Questions or problems regarding this bulletin board should be directed to Bruce Marriott