Concept: Ben Duke
Reviewer: Peter Jacobs
Conceived by Lost Dog’s award-winning Ben Duke in collaboration with company co-founder Raquel Messenger, this is not Romeo and Juliet. This is Juliet and Romeo.
The idea behind this dance theatre show is that Romeo and Juliet didn’t die: they survived and stayed together in an unexpectedly ‘normal’ marriage and are now in their 40s and having a bit of a mid-life crisis, constantly trying to live up to the ever-present legend of their great romantic love. They know the script (mostly) but the parts are no longer such a good fit. They have tried many types of couple’s therapy and this show is their latest attempt to reignite the embers, which are stuttering but not yet cold.
So what we have is a piece of comedy theatre with well-crafted movement sections, which is solidly what Lost Dog excel at. Duke is a masterful performer and maker. His acting and movement perfectly express Romeo’s existential struggle to live up to his own press, to his Juliet. He’s uncertain, evasive, unable to fully connect with, let alone express or communicate his emotions (a man, basically). Duke has a gift for taking this internal dialogue and converting into a vibrant physical language, whether he is dancing or not.
Soléne Weinachter’s Juliet is suffering from low mood; angry and disappointed with the increasingly humdrum delivery of her expected life, and Romeo’s fulfilment of his part of the deal: she is the Juliet Capulet, after all. She still loves him but is this still enough and does she have the courage to do anything about it. Weinachter gives a finely-modulated performance full of small detail and emotional depth and she looks to be a beautiful dancer.
Clever music choices – The Beatles, Des’ree, Simon & Garfunkel Arvo Part, Cat Power and a witty insertion of Dance of the Knights from the Prokofiev ballet score -punctuate the dialogue and allow dance to fill the gaps in the narrative in a way that can be far more effective than talking alone. The only real issue is with sound. The music is punchy and vibrant but Duke and Weinachter appeared to be operating without any amplification, even when actually standing at a stand mic which forms part of James Perkins’ set: this meant that full concentration was required to follow them when speaking.
Juliet and Romeo is a finely crafted piece of integrated theatre delivered by two intriguing and charismatic performers: modern, witty and fun – with real, resonant emotional intelligence.
Reviewed on 2 October 2018 | Image: Jane Hobson