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Review of Rasta Thomas’ Dance Company: Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and JulietI don’t say this often, but ‘Wow!’ Technical difficulties may have given the show a false start but it failed to dampen the audience’s mood. The legendary Peacock Theatre, part of the famous Sadler’s Wells family, is a perfect venue with plenty of space, great acoustics and spectacular lighting to show off what was to be such an explosion of talent.

I confess to knowing nothing about the technicalities of dance, I wouldn’t know a Pas de deux from a ‘how dya do’. Although not faultless, there was nothing that could distract from the stunning visual impact of a ballet/hip hop fusion. As a ballet admirer, I know what I like and I loved what I saw.

The atmosphere was electric. There were whoops and hollers as we were treated to an on stage costume change, there was dancing and clapping in the seats as people were swept up into the energy. This show has everything. It has comedy – with possibly the longest, campest stage death in performance history. It has vanity – Paris’ ego morphs into a whole cast of Paris replicates; there can be no sympathy for his rejection by Juliet when he has so much love for himself. It has action – conflict has never looked so striking as rival gangs cavort through perfectly executed combative moves. It has tragedy – as both rival families lose family members. Ultimately it has romance – the alternation of music genres really emphasises the development from crush to lust to love as our Romeo and Juliet fall helplessly for each other, destined for their fatal fate.

With direction from the ballet dancing martial artist Rasta Thomas combined with dazzling choreography and performance by the fantastically accomplished Adrienne Canterna, the result is a show that is very physical, strong and sensitive. A unique hybrid of discipline and control with a very free rhythm and flow. The expression of emotions from their faces to their points shows that the company clearly love the music, love to dance and love what they’re doing and this enthusiasm is infectious. The audience are encouraged to clap along and interact with the music and movement, it is a really feel good affair.

It would be hard to single out to single out one of this joyous troupe for special mention, but just a few of the highlights for me were; Jarvis McKinley’s high drama Mercutio, Ryan Carlson’s acrobatic Tybalt and Jace Zeimantz shape throwing Friar Laurence. The leads of Adrienne Cantera and Preston Swovelin are romantic and sexy, with just the right amount of innocence to make the story work. Colourful and crazy, beautiful and beguiling. The music flows seamlessly from classic to pop to hip hop and back again with dances moves and performance moods to match every change, this really is a sensational creation and interpretation of one of the world’s most famous stories. The applause were rapturous, the smiles were large and any technical difficulties were forgiven and forgotten. If you love music and you love dance, you will love this show – almost as much as the company do!

4 stars

Review by Rachel Borland

Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Jay Z, LMFAO, The Police, David Guetta (as well as Vivaldi and Prokofiev) provide the hit tunes as the greatest love story of all time bursts into the 21st century in a phenomenal adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet plays a four-week London season at the Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells’ home in the West End, from Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 29th March 2015.

This contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare’s enduring romantic tragedy is set to become a signature production for dance lovers.

Sadler’s Wells
Portugal Street,
Ticket office: 0844 412 4322
Running time 2 hrs 5 mins (including one 20 min interval) No Under 5s
Tuesday 3 – Sunday 29 March
Tuesday – Sunday at 7.30pm
Saturday matinee at 2.30pm
Sunday matinee at 2.00pm


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