The Rite of Spring/Romeo & Juliet (tour – St Albans)
"The Rite of Spring" concerns the sacrifice of a girl to propitiate the gods and ensure prosperity. "Romeo and Juliet" is (partly) about the sacrifice of young love on the altar of ambition. What happens when you sew the two together?
Concert Theatre is an ensemble dedicated to amalgamating music and theatre. For The Rite of Spring/Romeo & Juliet, Stravinsky's score is played onstage in a four-hand arrangement by director An-Ting Chan and Belle Chen. The five actors wear half-masks, enabling them to play multiple roles, and mime rather than speak actual lines.
Stylised costumes, like the moveable set pieces, have been designed by Mila Sanders in black and white. Only Paris' cream jacket and the Friar's tapestry robe add colour; the Friar is also the only character not to wear one of Trestle's commedia dell'arte masks. These work extremely well, with – for me – the exception being the one for Juliet.
Yarit Dor's choreoegraphy for the fight scenes uses singlesticks to good advantage. Monika Lindeman's mask as Tybalt is a screwed-up visualisation of hate and violence; as the nurse it is pleasantly gormless. Ben Hadley's Capulet is stiff with ancestral pride; his Romeo gives us a young man teetering on the brink of maturity.
That pummelled-in-the-womb mask apart, Dorie Kinear's Juliet is mischievously childish yet offering a glimpse at the way she is pitchforked into adult emotion and responsibility by her encounters with her suitors. Alex Lehman doubles the Friar, desperately trying to haul peace down from heaven onto the warring families, and Benvolio, a jovial partaker in any mischief going.
Mercutio and Paris make an interesting double for Nectarios Theodorou. This Paris begins as a man who knows his own value but ends as someone who is genuinely in love and devastated by Juliet's death. His Mercutio lives on the edge, only at ease when facing a challenge – of any sort. Several of the cast have received Lecoq-school training, and it shows.
Yes, words are important in the theatre. But so is movement. And masks, arguably, were there from its very beginning.
The Rite of Spring/Romeo & Juliet is on national tour until 28 June.