Photo by Jane Hobson
Juliet and Romeo by Lost Dog – The Place, London
Lost Dog’s productions are unmistakable, effortlessly combining drama and dance across the divide between conventional theatre and dance. It seems so natural that it’s easy to forgot they are pulling off something extremely difficult. Their latest show, Juliet and Romeo, is sophisticated, multi-layered and utterly engrossing. It is funny, sad and, above all, deeply original. Directed by Ben Duke and performed by him and Solène Weinachter, the pair are Romeo and Juliet. They are in their mid-40s and, it turns out, never died. Shakespeare sexed up their story for effect, and their relationship has been haunted by the failure to live up their legend. They suffer from the standard problems of middle-aged couples growing apart from one another, dealing with the pressures of raising children and the disappointments of reality. This clever take unpicks fame, self-mythologising, and the qualities required to deal with life as it is, not as you wish it were.
This inquisition is delivered with irresistible lightness, and a number of dance set pieces that are simply brilliant. The couple perform a clumsy arm-in-face bed wrestle, cleverly catching the experience of sleeping with the same person for years. Juliet likes to reenact Shakespeare’s version of their story, meaning that Duke dances with a dead weight Weinachter, leaving no doubt about how hard work it is, despite her petite form. The two have rather different recollections of the moment their eyes met across the room. Duke dances a very funny, very ludicrous swagger accompanied by The Beatles’ ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’, while Weinachter wants him to glide across the floor to ‘Wild is the Wind’. The humour is balanced by particularly moving scenes, including one in which Romeo tries to distract a dead-eyed Juliet, following a miscarriage. The show is exceptionally accomplished, a top quality performance that disregards art form definitions to leave the audience delighted by Lost Dog’s conceptual insight, physical expression and instinct for theatre.