Ben Duke and Solène Weinachter play Romeo and Juliet, but they didn’t die in that crypt, they ran away to France and got older, got jobs, and had a baby. They got bored. With an amazing fusion of dance, music, and comedy, Lost Dog’s Juliet & Romeo sees our leads hit middle age and realise they don’t recognise themselves anymore.
They step in and out of each other’s memories throughout, and us with them, and we are left having to unlearn everything we knew about the great couple. We are their therapy session. And they are ours. With wry winks to the already-saturated Romeo and Juliet canon, the piece deconstructs our shared myth to devastating impact. Shakespeare visited, drank with them, and changed their ending- and he chose this ending for us, for a society obsessed with love and youth and death, he knew that we couldn’t love an aging pair, that Romeo getting a job and Juliet being a mum wouldn’t have nearly the impact as immortalising two beautiful people in their prime. No wonder Juliet wants to live in this fiction, again and again.
How could a couple that start out with all those secrets, all that passion, all those stabby cousins, end up anything other than disappointed with each other?
The dance felt like electricity: unpredictable and dangerous and charged. Romeo, all wound up tension, frenetic bursts of chaotic limbs. Juliet played smaller, stiller, but just as sharp. The moments when they collide were some of the most epic during the show, beautiful and ugly as they grasped each other, bit and tore at each other. James Perkins’ set felt deliberately cage-like, holding the performance so intimately. The soundtrack felt like its own presence, used beautifully in the scenes- The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and Sinatra, all sat well beside Prokofiav and Biber, and made the show feel even more refreshing and contemporary.
I mentioned comedy earlier; fear not, it’s still a tragedy. Only this one feels more relatable than two 14 year olds getting married. Who can’t relate to resenting their younger selves years on? Who else wishes they were more like their first date than all the times you fell asleep on the sofa or shouted at your kid? And in dismantling their old selves, holding themselves up to the light, we too get examined. Except I’m not half of a legend, reading and re-reading the yellowing pages of my exceptional youth, stuck in the moment when I loved someone so much that I nearly died for them.
As the sell-out show ended, a fading spotlight on Juliet as she sings along to Cat Power’s Wild Is The Wind, I felt aching and breathless. A stunning performance by incredible performers. Part of Theatre Orchard’s ‘Dance Dynamic Weston’, Lost Dog’s Juliet & Romeo felt like a privilege to watch at Weston’s Grand Pier.
Theatre Orchard’s Autumn – Spring Dance Dynamic Programme is here.
Next up is Tentacle Tribe’s Hip Hop with a twist at The Blakehay Theatre #DanceDynamic