This striking take on William Shakespeare’s tragedy offers new life into this much told story.

For those expecting a traditional interpretation this classic story are in for a huge shock with Matthew Bourne’s electrifying and deeply fascinating take on Romeo & Juliet.

In this somewhat chilling and at times disturbing version, instead of having the feuding Montagues and Capulets at the centre of the story, this unique version sees the story taking place in the Verona institute where young people are trained to submit and conform to authority – which of course Romeo and Juliet rebel against as they try to overcome numerous obstacles to be together.

Matthew Bourne’s sharp and consistently imaginative choreography ensures that the story has plenty to shock as the way in which Mercutio and Tybalt’s deaths are presented highlights. Every movement flows gracefully from one to the next in a beautiful way – the choreography for when Romeo first enters the institution and made to change into a uniform brilliantly captures this.

But just as importantly, it feels as though this interpretation really interprets the darker elements of Prokofiev’s score to strong effect – particularly as Tybalt tries to gain the attention of the unwilling Juliet. This is helped of course by Terry Davies’s edgier orchestrations of the score, performed with great power by the orchestra.

Other memorable moments of the production include a unique interpretation of the masked ball, which while starts almost like a formal tea party, soon transforms into something much sexier after the adults leave. It gives the production a sense of the passion that the audience is looking for which can at times be lacking elsewhere. This being said, the duets between Romeo and Juliet are so wonderfully sweet and tender, with the chemistry between Cordelia Braithwaite and Paris Fitzpatrick is gloriously natural.

Cordelia Braithwaite as Juliet manages to capture the character’s youthful vulnerability but also her intelligence and strength. Paris Fitzpatrick as Romeo is all grace and charm but it does remain a bit of an understated performance that has potential to make more of an impact. Elsewhere, Daisy Mae Kemp is a sheer joy to watch as the nurse and reverend Bernadette – offering playfulness and joy through her performance. Dan Wright’s menacing take on Tybalt is also a strong presence on stage.

This is an immensely dark, dramatic and violent take on this much interpreted story. Yet, once again Matthew Bourne has created something that allows us to see the story in a different light – highlighting his strong and capable storytelling abilities.

By Emma Clarendon

Sky Arts will also be showing the 2015 production of The Car Man at 8pm on the 3rd May.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐