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Review: Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet is dark and utterly enthralling

PUBLISHED: 16:58 04 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:18 05 September 2019

Romeo and Juliet  Credit: Johan Persson

Romeo and Juliet Credit: Johan Persson

Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet leaves me searching for superlatives.

Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet Credit: Johan PerssonMatthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet Credit: Johan Persson

The New Adventures dance company opened their show in Norwich last night for a run until Saturday evening.

Having seen Swan Lake a few months ago I was looking forward to an accomplished performance, but was expecting it to be a bit pale in comparison to Bourne's epochal show.

It was anything but.

MORE: Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake review: It left me genuinely speechless

Bourne has taken the best elements of this classic love story and twisted it into a more contemporary and chilling tale.

Matthew Bourne's New Adventures perform Romeo and Juliet. Credit: Johan Persson/Matthew Bourne's New Adventures perform Romeo and Juliet. Credit: Johan Persson/

Instead of fair Verona the entire ballet takes place within an institute.

Romeo and Juliet are both residents, with recognisable characters appearing as other patients, reverends or guards.

Because of this fact the choreography plays to blurring reality with twisted perception - and unsurprisingly, with devastating consequence.

This New Adventures cast seems to be made up of younger dancers, who do have a less striking presence on stage than their principle counterparts in the Swan Lake production.

Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet at the Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: Johan PerssonMatthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet at the Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: Johan Persson

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But this lends itself well to the delicacy of the show.

Paris Fitzpatrick's Romeo is a perfect example, with the character depicted more vulnerably than in classic productions.

Juliet's character has been strengthened as a result, and we see this reflected in Cordelia Braithwaite supporting physical lifts as much a her partner.

Cordelia Braithwaite's Juliet with Tybalt (Dan Writght). Credit: Johan PerssonCordelia Braithwaite's Juliet with Tybalt (Dan Writght). Credit: Johan Persson

A lot more bodies have also been piled onto stage, and there are some stand-out performances in the corps.

Danny Collins is brilliant as Mercutio and blends the comedic moments seamlessly with the heartbreaking.

The corps has also made the most of the physical theatre they've been given to work with.

The audience can hear the stamps of feet on the stage and the clanging of fists against bars - it's raw with impact instead of just a cheap shock.

I will warn you that if you're looking for a production which will gently tug at your heart strings then this isn't for you.

This show is genuinely dark; it's the first time I've seen principles take their final bow with hands covered in blood.

If you want to see something entirely original and utterly enthralling then I cannot recommend this more highly.

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