It’s one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays, a timeless story of tragic love. Moscow City Ballet’s performance of Romeo and Juliet is robbed of the famous poetry, substituting for it Prokofiev’s score and Victor Smirnov-Golovanov’s skilful direction and choreography.
Liliya Orekhova leads as Juliet to Daniil Orlov’s Romeo, accompanied by the skilled musicianship of the company’s orchestra, conducted by Igor Shavruk.
Both leads give technically strong performances but their dance skills exceed their acting ability, in a way more important for ballet than spoken performance.
Ballet doesn’t do balconies, but in their courtship and consummation they give some of the best dancing of the night. Juliet’s mental anguish later in the play is also beautifully wrought, with a heavy metaphor of death hanging over later proceedings.
The roundest overall is Artem Minakov’s Mercutio, whose exuberant carousing – especially with Lyubov Lysak as nurse – and dramatic death both charm and disarm.
He is pitted well against Talgat Kozhabaev’s Tybalt, who has an intimidating physical and dramatic presence matched by exemplary dance skills.
The corps is particularly talented, with fantastic ensemble pieces that have enchanting wit and humour. They give an extra sparkle to the show, making for a much rounder and enjoyable performance.
Natalia Povago’s costumes lend a lush, rich air to the production, completing a fine dance embodiment of a great play.