Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Romeo and Juliet Contemporary Dance/Jazz Suite

Music by James Russell, choreography by Marie Lawrence
Customs House, South Shields
(2004)

It is three and a half years since I first heard and reviewed this piece, so when I heard that James Russel was taking it on the road, I was keen to hear it again. Then I learned that it was to include three dancers so I was all the more determined to revisit it.

First of all, in spite of a couple of changes in personnel, the music retains its power and I can only repeat what I said in my previous review: it works well and is very enjoyable. But the question has to be asked: does the dance fit in?

The short answer is yes. Dancer and choreographer Marie Lawrence - like the rest of the company, almost indecently talented for one so young! - has been very eclectic in her use of dance styles, with, for example, some very witty vintage Hollywood musicals ideas in the lovers' celebration of their marriage contrasting effectively with the powerful Thus with a Kiss I Die, which was in some ways reminiscent of the BRB's Romeo and Juliet. I was particularly taken with the way in which she and Palmer caught exactly the youthfulness - almost childishness - of the lovers in It Is the East and Juliet Is the Sun and It Was the Lark. There was an uncomplicated joyousness and exuberance in both the choreography and the performance which was a delight.

Unfortunately they had problems for the Customs House performance: due to circumstances entirely beyond the company's control they were a dancer short, which meant that Will Palmer had to dance for two. However if we had not been told this at the beginning, we would never have known.

Essentially it is a work-in-progress. At the moment only eight of the fourteen pieces have been choreographed: I look forward to the next stage!

There will be one more performance in the current tour: at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, on 23rd April.

Reviewer: Peter Lathan