Stuttgart Ballet/Romeo and Juliet, Coliseum, London
A Romeo to die for, in the ballet that inspired our Ken
Sunday 30 March 2008
The new spring dance season at the Coliseum is proving a valuable catch-up service. A fortnight ago it brought us New York City Ballet, not seen in London for 25 years. Now comes another heavyweight, absent for even longer, with a Romeo and Juliet that gives our version a run for its money.
So ubiquitous is the R&J created in 1965 by Kenneth MacMillan that many dance fans think it the only one. John Cranko's for Stuttgart Ballet pre-dates it by three years, and initially the comparison isn't flattering to MacMillan, in that a surprising number of elements seem to have been pinched. More crucial, though, is the way Cranko showed his friend the way in forging a narrative naturalism. Gone are the perfumed manners of the Bolshoi staging that both men saw in 1956. Cranko's lovers are proper teens, albeit generic ones, their story unfolding with the clarity and immediacy of a photo-romance.
There's true matesmanship, too, in the way Romeo and his chums lay their plans to gatecrash the Capulet party. And the play of illicit glances between the newly moon-struck couple as they dance formally with other guests – losing their cool every time their shoulders brush – is beautifully calibrated. That audacity reaches fever pitch when, as Paris kneels at Juliet's feet pressing an ardent cheek to her hand, Romeo stands outrageously close to her, their eyes locked.
That attention to detail makes the Verona street scenes crackle. Did Cranko cut some of Prokofiev's music here? If not, it feels like it, for just where Mac-Millan gets bogged down in apron-flapping peasants and skipping harlots, Cran-ko bowls the story along.
And yet I wouldn't swap. The Stuttgart balcony duet is more romance than erotic encounter. It keeps its clothes on, so to speak. And though the fights are brilliantly managed, I question the dramatic rightness of having Tybalt pierce Mercutio's chest by accident. The man has a bloodlust, after all. But transpose Stuttgart heartthrob Friedemann Vogel and his floppy-haired, colt-legged pals into MacMillan territory and I'll be first in line for a ticket. I've not seen such a well-matched trio of gorgeously accomplished hoodlums, ever.
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Kylie Minogue quits The Voice UK
Review: Half of A Yellow Sun
Arts & Ents blogs
New Banksy art 'Mobile Lovers' removed with crowbar, hoarded in youth club
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Game of Thrones season 4 episode 2 breaks torrent record as fans watch online
Game of Thrones season 4 episode 2 sees fans jubilant over King Joffrey's 'Purple Wedding'
Paul Walker's brothers stand in for actor’s final scenes for Fast & Furious 7 movie
David Cameron: 'Jesus invented the Big Society – I'm just continuing God's work'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for auction...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 3 Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline bribed doctors to boost sales, says whistleblower