Like Baz Luhrmann before him, Matthew Bourne’s contemporary reworking of “Romeo and Juliet” adds a coat of grit to fair Verona. Gone are the marbled columns and wrought-iron balconies of the Capulet court; it’s all sheetrock and cold metal bars at the Verona Institute, a juvie-asylum hybrid where disaffected teens are doped into submission. Absent too are the feuding families. Romeo’s parents are shellacked politicians, eager to hand their son over for medicated safekeeping, while Juliet’s are absent from the picture altogether. A legion of tyrannical guards stand in the way of our star-crossed lovers, commanded by a nightmarish Tybalt whose predation of Juliet escalates into rape just minutes into the show.
Seren Williams and Andrew Monaghan in Matthew Bourne's “Romeo and Juliet.” Photograph by Johan Persson