Romeo And Juliet, Royal Opera House, London <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar --> - Reviews - Theatre & Dance - The Independent

Romeo And Juliet, Royal Opera House, London

4.00

Carlos makes Romeo his own

Carlos Acosta has taken his time with Romeo. Kenneth MacMillan's production is one of the Royal Ballet's great warhorses, often the first British choreography danced by guest artists. Acosta, who has appeared regularly with the company since 1998, danced his first Romeo on Friday. At once, it became one of his best roles.

Acosta, Cuban-born and trained, is a sunny performer with remarkable technique. He takes easily to the stage, easily to dancing, but soberly to drama: his carefully worked-out acting can look conscientious. In Romeo, he throws himself into the dancing, and suddenly the drama takes care of itself. By pouring out steps, Acosta shows us Romeo's heart.

In the balcony scene, Romeo dances to Juliet and then with her, a dizzy series of turns and jumps that leads straight into the lifts and embraces of the duet. Acosta's dancing is ardent and clear, soaring on the music, his body stretched exultantly in the air. The naturalistic gestures come simply, with no sense of effort. He watches Tamara Rojo's Juliet, addressing his solos to her, and keeps that focus to the end. In the tomb scene, he drags and cradles her corpse as if he doesn't realise that she's dead.

Acosta's Romeo lives in his dancing. Rojo is, first and foremost, a dramatic performer. In her 19th-century roles, she tends to lay on the grandeur with a heavy hand; in MacMillan, she's at her most spontaneous. She's an alert Juliet, quick to think and plan. Having met Romeo at the Capulet ball, hoping to meet him again, she rushes her Nurse out of the way - so quickly, in fact, that she scampers to avoid treading on the other woman's trailing skirts. It's a scamper that carries Rojo right back into the room, hopeful and expectant.

Juliet dominates MacMillan's last act: confronting her family, taking the potion. Rojo tends to isolate those scenes, rather than building them into an arc. But she makes vivid points along the way. Pretending to accept David Pickering's Paris, she dances with drooping limbs, but her bowed head still looks rebellious. She skims over the nervy pointe work of the potion scene, going straight for the naturalistic gulp and painful collapse.

There was a strong cast around these lovers. José Martin's Mercutio is sharp and lively, feet pointedly neat as he teases guests at the Capulet ball. As Benvolio, Yohei Sasaki is unexpectedly sinuous: he's squarely built, but the sidling, angled steps come through strongly. Good as they are, Acosta, Martin and Sasaki aren't ideally matched as lads about town. Martin's short neck and broad shoulders make him a character Mercutio, set against the more classical Acosta. Thiago Soares is a fierce Tybalt, with an angry length to his stride.

Mikhail Agrest conducted a sturdy account of Prokofiev's score, stronger on feuds and discords than on lyricism. Agrest could give the ballet more forward drive. Prokofiev wrote long market scenes, giving choreographers the task of filling up space. MacMillan does it by inventing three harlots, here led by Laura Morera, who has a light jump and an eye for mischief. As Escalus, prince of Verona, Gary Avis sweeps on with real authority.

The company is on good form. Juliet's friends dance crisply, upper bodies sweetly angled. The choreography is dull in the second-act market dances, but the corps give them plenty of light and shade. The early fight scenes, with their click-click swordplay and mourning women, need more pace.

Romeo and Juliet is a large-scale production, with its massive Prokofiev score, market and ball scenes. Nicholas Georgiadis's sets and costumes are handsomely monumental, with dappled marble colours and a Byzantine cell for Friar Laurence. Georgiadis made several revisions to the 1965 production - including, alas, removing the parapet from Juliet's balcony - but it's still a grand spectacle.

To 10 April (020-7304 4000)

Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week