Event review: Sir Frederick Ashton's Romeo and Juliet

The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, the two star-crossed lovers, is world renowned and holds a special place in my heart as it was the first Shakespeare play that I ever read. I must have been about 15 when, after a couple of years of learning English, I decided that it was time to put all abridged versions for teenagers aside and get on with the real thing.

I will always be grateful to the Mondadori bilingual edition for allowing me to navigate the language of the Bard with the help of Alfredo Orbetello’s translation. There must have been more recent translations but this first copy of Romeo and Juliet is the one I keep going back when I need to restore my faith in romantic love. I mean, I dare anyone to read it and not feel something shift deep inside!

It might be the understatement of the year, but Romeo and Juliet would not be the success it is without Shakespeare’s genius as a wordsmith. That’s why my curiosity was instantly awakened when I heard that the Peter Schaufuss Ballet would come to Brighton in December to perform Sir Frederick Ashton’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

How was the Danish choreographer going to express the passion that drives all of the Shakespearian characters - from the two lovers to Mercutio and Tybalt - without words?

That was the answer! The simplicity - sparseness, even - of the stage made you focus all your attention on the dancers, whose movements - essential and, if you allow me, almost minimalist - powerfully conveyed emotions in their rawest form, underlined by the music written by Sergei Prokofiev and played live by the orchestra, masterfully directed by Igor Shavruk.

I greatly enjoyed Johan Christensen and his feisty rendition of Tybalt but - whenever they were on stage - I couldn’t take my eyes off Stefan Wise and Megumi Oki in the role of Romeo and Juliet. Naïve, determinate, passionate, desperate… the vibes coming from the stage were so intense and emotional that the final scene in the crypt left me in tears.

Another success for Peter Schaufuss, who also made a cameo appearance as Friar Laurence.

To learn more about the Peter Schaufuss Ballet, please click here, while to read online or download a copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, visit the Project Gutenberg website via this link.


  1. I love your post Silvia! And you answered my question ust like your own, how would it be transformed a story famous for its words to an art without words. Sounds great!

  2. I thought I had been watching this one: http://www.roh.org.uk/whatson/production.aspx?pid=17623

  3. Thank you! Now that you're in London, Jeane, perhaps we could go to The Globe sometimes. I haven't been there yet... shocking!

  4. I haven't either! Not evening when I lived here before. Coincidence but ALberto has been talking about the globe a lot lately and withour realizing when we were walking along the thames last Sunday, we suddenly were in front of it! :-)


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