Dance, Physical Theatre & Circus review: Juliet & Romeo, Dance Base, Edinburgh

It's not often you're doubled over with laughter and wiping away tears of sadness during the same show. Given the components that come together in Juliet & Romeo, however, it's no surprise.
Juliet & Romeo. Picture: Jane HobsonJuliet & Romeo. Picture: Jane Hobson
Juliet & Romeo. Picture: Jane Hobson

Juliet & Romeo, Dance Base, Edinburgh * * * * *

Ben Duke, artistic director of Lost Dog, is one of Britain's finest theatre-makers; Solene Weinachter has proved herself to be a fine actor/dancer with a variety of companies including Scottish Dance Theatre; and Shakespeare has written a thing or two of merit. So into this talented trio's safe hands we place ourselves, to discover an alternate outcome for the most famous romantic couple in literature.

In Duke's version (he conceived, directed and performs in the show), Romeo and Juliet didn't die on that fateful night, they ran away to Paris (the city, not the suitor) and made a life together in a bijou apartment. We meet them years later, when the first flush of romance has worn off and malcontent has set in. They've tried couple therapy to no avail, so now they're re-visiting key moments in their relationship in front of us, the audience, to see if that helps.

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Duke is hilarious as the mis-remembering, slightly hapless husband struggling to be the romantic hero Juliet needs him to be. Weinachter's impatient yet encouraging harassed wife and mother is perfectly timed. Both feel carved from life, and both have the ability to make us laugh, then feel like we've been punched in the heart.

Against a backdrop of top tunes, from Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell to Simon and Garfunkel, they pick apart disagreements through both movement and words. Shakespeare's text - and even Prokofiev's iconic score - are cleverly interwoven, usually to comedic effect ("I wouldn't have said those words," says Duke/Romeo, "I don't even understand them!").

Anyone who's ever fallen in love, and tried to keep that love alive in the melee of child-rearing and outside influences, will find resonance here. But even those who haven't can't fail to appreciate the genius at play.

Until 25 August

Kelly Apter