Romeo and Juliet, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, REVIEW: 'Marvel at its many wonders'

Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet is at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until Saturday. Picture: Johan Persson
Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet is at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until Saturday. Picture: Johan Persson
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There’s no surprise how this beautiful ballet ends. But what is surprising is how it gets there. 

Matthew Bourne has once again earned his accolade as the nation’s favourite choreographer – not least with the most epic snog ever seen on stage. If that’s your first kiss, acrobatically displayed by Andy Monaghan and Seren Williams, it could be argued that it hardly matters if your life together is so short.

But what matters to me – hugely – is how that life together starts. While this new retelling is set in an institution and uses simple yet stunning staging to shadow the ballrooms and balconies of our imaginations as the inmates perils are displayed, the beginning of our lovers story left me cold. For some reason Juliet is delivered into our care through violent rape by a guard. Without her family in situ, she needed to belong so someone for the plot to work, but this choice bewildered me. Surely there’s another way of creating that tension without resorting to rape? This is a story that doesn’t have it and when so much of modern-day fodder relies on violence against women to set up storylines, why add to the cesspool? It loomed over the whole plot with a crisis of how this will be resolved through a #metoo lens, rather than, how will the lovers' story be resolved. 

But as ever, go and see this New Adventures Production and marvel at its many wonders.

Until Saturday.