Avant Garde’s Romeo and Juliet uses 3D sound design and the streets of Blackfriars to create a cinematic journey through Shakespeare’s epic love story. The show has dance and musicality at its heart, but is rooted as a theatre production. Tony Adigun’s ground-breaking choreography and direction combines with Shakespeare’s text adapted by spoken word artist and theatre-maker Maxwell Golden, to create a stunning production that immerses the audience in a modern take of the play that literally uses the cityscape as the stage.
I enjoyed my first proper bank holiday weekend since moving to London and true to form the weather was absolutely hideous for it. Unfortunately this meant that my plans to see the Avant Garde Dance promenade version of Romeo and Juliet which was due to take place throughout the streets and buildings of Blackfriars didn’t go quite to plan. The team had made the (absolutely correct given the circumstances) decision not to continue the performance as scheduled as the weather made it very unsafe for both the audience and the actors and instead put on a shortened version of the show at what would have been the final location – St George The Martyr church in Borough.
While disappointing this was of course preferrable to having the performance cancelled entirely as it was the final day of the show and there would be no opportunity to see it again. After a 10 minute walk to the church we entered and were introduced to the Capulets and Montagues. We were all crammed into the small entrance hall and my first thought was that there were too many of us to be able to see the action clearly which did prove to be a little bit of a problem for some scenes.
We were led by our guide in and around various parts of the church and its vicinity some parts of which worked better than others but I thought the cast did a remarkable job reworking the show the way they did. About half way through we were given wireless headsets to be able to hear what was being said by the performers but this did have some technical hitches which was a tad frustrating but let’s be honest the main thing you look for in any performance is the quality of the acting (and in this case dancing) which was to notch. There was one hilarious yet awkward moment when we were thrust into the rave where Romeo and Juliet first meet and were encouraged to join in. Let’s just say my raving moves leave a lot to be desired but watching a much older lady throwing some shapes on the dance floor certainly loosened me up. Thank you Avante Garde Dance for ensuring that the show did indeed go on and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any future productions!