Romeo + Juliet (Review)

Romeo + Juliet

(Critique en français : cliquez ici)

Composer: Sergueï PROKOFIEV

Director and choreographer: Matthew BOURNE   

Sets and Costumes designer: Lez BROTHERSTON

Lightning designer: Paule CONSTABLE

Sound designer: Paul GROOTHUIS

Orchestrator: Terry DAVIES

Associate artistic director: Etta MURFITT

Associate Choreographer: Arielle SMITH


until 28 march 2024

At Théâtre du Châtelet


After tackling Swan Lake at Théâtre Mogador in 2005 and bringing tears to our eyes with Edward Scissorhands at the Théâtre du Châtelet in 2008, Matthew BOURNE is making another stopover in Paris, this time with PROKOFIEV’s ballet Romeo and Juliet. The recipe is unchanged: he reappropriates the story without detaching himself from it. He goes even deeper than in Shakespeare’s work to explore the loss of control engendered by mad love. Madness is, moreover, the hallmark of this production in which young adults are locked up. It does not, however, lose another important notion from the original play: the sense of sacrifice, and in fact reinforces it even further.

We are captivated by the aura of Rory MCLEOD (alternately Romeo, Mercutio or Benvolio) who literally transcends the ensemble. As Mercutio, on the evening of our visit, he is a dashing and endearing braggart. Romeo and Juliet, played by Paris FITZPATRICK and Monique JONAS, exude delicacy and innocence. These emotions are conveyed not only through their dancing but also through their subtle acting. The rest of the troupe is not to be outdone. The leaps are as original as they are beautiful. Have you ever seen a corps de ballet dancing on walls between pas chassés that have also been reinvented? Incredible! Barefoot pointe: impossible is nothing!

We also like the choice of a world where there is no colour, with a few exceptions. White is everywhere: on the sets, in the costumes and in the lighting. A perfect light that is sometimes reflected in the bevelled tiles typical of the Paris underground, placed here in the characters’ cells, and sometimes plays on the silhouettes in reduced or growing shadows that are cast on all sides of the stage. It’s a work of great beauty and reflection. The double meaning of the word reflection is not insignificant.

The music is sometimes distorted to add to the drama. We would have liked it to have been played by a live band to give it greater scope and more vibrancy. All the more so at the Théâtre du Châtelet.

Like his Swan Lake, Matthew BOURNE once again plays on the confusion of genders. Gender and divided, creating doubts about the sexual attractions of certain characters without disturbing the spectator unduly. The tendency to rewrite even makes the narrative more topical, more rooted in our times.

There’s a sexy, charming ball scene with classical choreography that borrows a few rock steps, while the Mercutio/Tybalt confrontation benefits from a virile voluptuousness.

Matthew BOURNE’s Romeo + Juliet is a bold, modern ballet the likes of which we’d like to see more of.





Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet gives Shakespeare’s timeless story of forbidden love a scintillating injection of raw passion and youthful vitality. Confined against their will by a society that seeks to divide, our two young lovers must follow their hearts as they risk everything to be together. A masterful re-telling of an ageless tale of teenage discovery and the madness of first love, Romeo and Juliet garnered universal critical acclaim when it premiered in 2019, and now returns to the New Adventures repertoire alongside the very best of Bourne’s world renowned dance theatre productions.








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