Romeo et Juliette, Ballets de Monte Carlo review: inventive and starkly stylish at the Coliseum

24/04/2015 by

This is a starkly stylish Romeo and Juliet from choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot and his Monte Carlo company. The palette is chic metallics and monochrome, the set curved white walls and ramps, like the old penguin enclosure at London Zoo.

Maillot’s movement is anything but minimal though. The dancers rush from pose to emphatic pose, filling up the music with staccato steps and hard angles. Things get more lyrical when Romeo (Lucien Postlewaite) and Juliet (Noelani Pantastico) meet, giddy with shivers of delight and discovery, intoxicated by new love as if they’re coming up on ecstasy.

The production may not be the most engagingly dramatic — it’s a tad cartoonish in its characterisation — but it is inventive. There are slo-mo fight scenes and time freezes and a funny Punch and Judy-esque puppet show. And there are small inflections in the reading of the text that refresh this well-worn narrative. It’s the first time I’ve seen Tybalt shocked and repentant at his killing of Mercutio, or Romeo go at Tybalt with such savage gusto. And Friar Laurence’s trembling guilt at his part in the final tragedy makes a powerful close to a coolly contemporary ballet.