Lost Dog’s new show reveals the real story of Romeo and Juliet. It turns out they didn’t die in a tragic misunderstanding, they grew up and lived happily ever after.
Well, they lived at least.
Now they are 40ish, at least one of them is in the grips of a mid-life crisis, they feel constantly mocked by their teenage selves and haunted by the pressures of being the poster couple for romantic love. They have decided to confront their current struggles by putting on a performance – about themselves. Their therapist told them it was a terrible idea.
With Lost Dog’s blend of dance, theatre and comedy this duet, directed by Olivier Award-nominated Ben Duke, takes on our cultural obsession with youth and our inevitable issues with longevity.
“★★★★★ Pure pleasure. Smart, subversive and sexy.” The Guardian
“★★★★★ Superb. Devastating realism and dark humour.” The Stage
Lost Dog is an award-winning dance theatre company headed by Artistic Director/ Performer Ben Duke was nominated Best Independent Company at the National Dance Awards 2018.
Solène Weinachter was also nominated in the Outstanding Female Modern Performance category for her role as ‘Juliet’.
‘Solène Weinachter in Lost Dog’s ‘Juliet & Romeo’: funny, frayed, and freaked-out. A dance actress of miraculous immediacy and transparency.’ Luke Jennings/Observer
‘Brilliant chemistry between Duke’s rumpled, ironic Romeo and Solène Weinachter’s Juliet, angrily exhausted by the juggling of work and motherhood.’ Judith Mackrell/Guardian
Juliet & Romeo is co-commissioned by Battersea Arts Centre, The Place and Warwick Arts Centre. The work is funded by Arts Council England via Grants for the Arts. Production time supported by Lancaster Arts and development time supported by Oval House through FiRST BiTES. Ben Duke is a Work Place artist.
A GUIDE TO LONG LIFE and HAPPY MARRIAGE’
Q&A with BEN DUKE, Artistic director of Lost Dog
‘JULIET and ROMEO: A GUIDE TO LONG LIFE and HAPPY MARRIAGE’ – Is this the story of what might have happened had Romeo and Juliet lived?
BEN DUKE: Yes. When I watch Romeo and Juliet I am always hoping that their timings will be a little different and Juliet will wake up a few moments earlier. I know she never will but I can’t help hoping for it. The idea for this piece came from allowing myself to imagine that alternate version. In this work they’ve been together about 25 years.
Are they happy and how do they feel about each other?
BEN DUKE: At the point that this piece is set they are in something of a marital crisis. Basically they love each other and sometimes they wish the other one were dead. The bloom of teenage romance has faded but it haunts them.
What inspired you to make it?
BEN DUKE: A feeling that we aren’t that honest about relationships in our culture and that too many stories focus on how relationships start rather than how they continue.
Had you seen stage/film versions of the original before you made your piece?
BEN DUKE: I have seen several versions. Baz Lurhman’s film version came out at a time when I was particularly impressionable and is lodged in my memory.
Describe their characters
BEN DUKE: Romeo is in the middle of a mid life crisis and so his character is trying to re-shape itself. He is trying to let go of the passionate, over the top teenager he was and become a Man. But he doesn’t have any clear idea what that Man should look like so he is in limbo. Juliet is very attached to the extraordinary teenager she was and is finding the ordinariness of her current life a struggle.
Will the audience like them?
BEN DUKE: At times – if you had them round for dinner you would probably find them a little self obsessed.
Tell us about casting and working with Solène
BEN DUKE: Solene is someone I first worked with when I made a piece called ’the life and times of girl a’ on Scottish Dance Theatre in 2010. She is a brilliant performer and someone I knew would be willing to spend time in the painful and ridiculous process that we went through.
And what do you hope audiences will take away with them after seeing the work?
BEN DUKE: A sense of realistic optimism about the state of their relationships – past, present or future.