28-31 October 2015
Reviewed by Keith Mitchell
Directions to the Mayflower are spot on and easy to follow with only a short distance from the motorway. There is a multi-storey car park nearby but some entrances only have one ticket machine making long queues at busy times. Try avoid nights when Southampton FC are at home (like last night) as the area gets SERIOUSLY busy.
The theatre is bright and welcoming from the outside. Staff are polite and very helpful. If you need disabled access it is not readily visible but I was assured there were lifts, assistance and wheelchair spots. Best to make this clear when you book as the stairs and seating in the Dress Circle and Upper Circle are steep. The main body of the theatre is warm and feels snug. Olde Worlde style décor and moulding abound. The seats are comfortable but leg room is a little short. Our seats allocated were C12 and 13 in the Dress Circle, which afforded an excellent view of the stage. Numerous ice cream spots are available during intervals but queueing is on the stairs. There is a large bar area with seating, by the Dress Circle. The toilets are clean and well stocked but a little difficult to find. It was nice to see the audience were casually dressed and relaxed.
There is a suitably large orchestra pit which is only partially visible from the Dress Circle so that I could only gauge when the Leader and the Conductor appeared by the large crowd’s reaction.
From the overture onwards they played Prokofiev’s score with power and panache, tasteful throughout, not overpowering. I must point out that I have NEVER been to the ballet before so this is a virgin layman’s review of the production (I have heard of Entrechat) and although I can listen to classical music, I felt the need to do a bit of research beforehand on the score and the ballet itself. I found the orchestra’s rendition of the score to be top notch. This version of the ballet created by Nureyev is performed by the English National Ballet Company and the English National Ballet Philharmonic.
I would suggest, unless you are a ballet aficionado, the purchase of the book on sale on site at a modest £5 is almost essential so you can keep up with the plots. It also contains a full cast list as the Principals change nightly. This can be checked out for each performance and venue via the ENB website.
The Ballet is set in three Acts with two twenty minute intervals between Acts. The stage was minimalist, with the illustrated backdrops providing the set changes very smoothly and neatly, apart from one little glitch towards the end where Juliet’s corpse was not quite covered by the curtain, when it caught on the bed. This was neatly covered by a member of cast walking out around that portion and flicking it back into place. As there were many comings and goings from the cast I doubt if many of the audience actually noticed. On several occasions the cast drew laughs from the audience with gestures or risqué innuendo in moves during the crowd scene as the two families, Montague and Capulet baited each other. The cast looked as though they really enjoyed performing this ballet. Loads of dramatic effect and heart break put across really well to the audience.
The main characters of Romeo and Juliet obviously spend a great deal of time on stage. They were performed in our show by Begona Cao and Esteban Berlanga I believe. Both artistes gave their all to their role showing amazing strength, suppleness and talent, wringing the emotions from this tragic tale. The other main characters and full company displayed great artistry, energy and elegance, as befits a Company of this magnitude. I would not dream of attempting to comment on the technical prowess of the performance, but as a spectacle and an entertainment I thought it was outstanding.
I am amazed by the beauty of the performance. The ladies are either absolute featherweights and/or the men immensely strong to go through two hours of lifts, twirls and many other moves to delight the audience. Hats off to the cast for their efforts.
In general terms I would say if you are a ballet buff, don’t miss the opportunity to see this fine Company, orchestra and cast perform this ballet. If you are not, and you fancy something a bit different, give it a chance, you may be pleasantly surprised, I know I was.
Tickets cost from £10.75 to £48.50 (booking fees may apply).
Romeo & Juliet is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until 31 October 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811