REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet - Theatre Royal, Newcastle

A KISS sizzling with the intensity only wild and crazy young love can bring seemed it would go on forever before bringing the first act to a dramatic close.

It was culmination of a mesmerising scene between the star-cross’d lovers, who dance teasingly and tantalisingly, before becoming locked at the lips.

Afterwards they collapse in a dream-like state at opposing ends of the stage, their thoughts consumed with one another.

The Northern Echo:

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet is another interpretation of the classic Shakespearean tragedy about the ill-fated love of two young people set in the not-too-distant future.

Influences of other famous interpretations, such as West Side Story and Grease, resonate, but this vibrant production is a fresh, new and original take on the well-worn tale.

Our protagonists appear as inmates of the white-tiled Verona Institute, which appears to be part prison, part mental hospital, where they are drilled and drugged into submission.

In Bourne’s world it is within this dystopian nightmare, where we lay our scene.

There is high drama from the outset as a talented cast, including six impressive amateurs from the North-East, move rhythmically to the captivating chords of the Dance of the Knights.

There are no warring families, no Montagues or Capulets, no streets gangs, and the obstacles the lovers have to overcome arise from the from the segregation of boys and girls as well as patients and guards and the division therein.

The Northern Echo:

The story rattles along to a bold new orchestration of the Prokofiev score by Terry Davies with Bourne’s hallmark choreography simply breath-taking.

Seren Williams is divine as Juliet, effortlessly graceful, while Andrew Monaghan is a terrific clownish but sweet Romeo.

There are great comic moments as he arrives at the correctional institute, delivered by his aloof politician parents, and is playfully stripped to his boxer shorts by his new peer group.

Early in the show the true character of the thuggish guard Tybalt, played by a menacing Danny Reubens, is laid bare as he hauls our tragic heroine off against her will to abuse her.

The act hidden, the implication heart-breaking.

She survives and attends a dance for the inmates, which is prim and proper under supervision by guards and sympathetic chaplain, yet down and dirty when the adults leave the room.

It is here Juliet and Romeo meet for the first time properly and they dance before THAT kiss.

The Northern Echo:

Alas, their love is short-lived and the beautiful harmony between their pair is broken by a drunken Tybalt, who is vengeful, angry and then humiliated.

And so the tragedy unfolds.

Matthew Bourne has created a unique version of this classic tale of woe and made it his own.

This is a truly stunning show and if you don’t think you like modern ballet, make your mind up after seeing this show.

The energy is electrifying, the climax ultimately beautiful and devastating in equal measure.

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet is at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal on Saturday with performances at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Tickets from £17.50 can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or booked online at