THE ENGLISH National Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet’s visit to the Bristol Hippodrome is a masterful take on the classic Shakespeare tragedy of violent delights and violent ends.

For me, the trip to the Hippodrome was a first for a more traditional ballet. Having thoroughly enjoyed the modern works of Matthew Bourne and Akram Khan in the past, I was unsure what to expect, but am delighted to say I was thoroughly swept up in the tale of star-crossed lovers.

While it was a great show all round, Jurgita Dronina’s portrayal of Juliet truly stole the show for me with a performance that went past technical skill to capture the innocence and sometimes juvenile nature of the titular character, and such grace that sometimes it was hard to notice other people were even on the stage.

But when you were able to take in the rest of the show, you were in for a treat with tantalising swordfights and brawls between the Capulets and Montagues, and regular but subtle comedic moments in the background from all supporting cast members.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Talking of comedy, Pedro Lapetra’s Mercutio brought everything to the role that you could hope for as the wind-up merchant whose infamous sense of humour ends up being his downfall. He brought forward the character’s sense of pride and mischief with ease. All that was missing was a break in the music for him to scream “A plague on both your houses!”

I have to admit I have always struggled to relate to the character of Romeo, not due to my own lack of charm, but more his fickle ability to fall head-over-heels in love repeatedly on a whim. This however was not the case with Aaron Robison, who embraced the changes in the character throughout the story as he went from a smitten teen to a man desperately fighting for the love of his life.

As someone who cares just as much about following the story as the technical performance, having a well-known tale like Romeo and Juliet made the show so easy for me to follow, and they have had plenty of time to get it right, with the first ballet set to Sergei Prokofiev’s score taking place all the way back in 1938.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

A sublime live orchestra conducted by Gavin Sutherland really brings the music to life, with many pieces of music likely to be familiar to the audience outside of the theatre. You will most likely be humming what you know as the theme tune to The Apprentice as you head to the interval.

Whether you are familiar with the play itself, the brilliant Baz Luhrmann film, or any other incarnation of Shakespeare’s classic, you know exactly what is happening – and if you don’t the cheat sheet in the programme is always on hand to help you out.

However, while audience members are bound to enjoy the performance, they should prepare to be doing so for a while. With an almost three-hour runtime, including two intervals, it is by no means a brief encounter!

English National Ballet: Romeo and Juliet is showing at the Bristol Hippodrome from November 21-25.