Food & Drink Editor Chloë Hyde and Culture Editor Sofia Salazar Studer come together in a collaboration between their sections to review ‘The Last Sip’ Cocktail and the Romeo and Juliet performance by the Birmingham Royal Ballet
‘The Last Sip’ – The Pineapple Club
In collaboration with Birmingham Royal Ballet’s recent production of Romeo and Juliet, The Pineapple Club have created a limited-edition cocktail named ‘The Last Sip’, running from 1st-16th October. We had the opportunity to try out this special cocktail before heading to the performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
The Pineapple Club is located in Great Western Arcade, around the corner from Colmore Row, and only a fifteen-minute walk to the Hippodrome. Even though our visit was quite early on a Friday evening, we were excited to see that the restaurant had a lovely atmosphere which was perfect for our pre-show drink.
‘The Last Sip’ was crafted by the Bar Manager of The Pineapple Club, Klára Kopčiková, and upon first glance, you can see why this drink has such a magical feel to it thanks to the small details. The tall and thin shape of the glass really replicates the fatal vial which is so famous in the play, and definitely enhances the drama of the drink. In addition, the blue and purple hue of the drink itself is so wonderful to look at, as we found the colour changed appearance depending on the surrounding light.
The blend of floral notes within the cocktail are intensified by the sprig of lavender which is clipped to the rim of the glass. I found that this amplified the lavender taste as I sipped, mingling the sensations of taste and smell. Alongside notes of lavender are violet, raspberry and topped with prosecco. As someone who rarely ventures into the realm of floral cocktails, I was surprised by the uniqueness of the flavour as I had never tried a drink like this before. The floral notes mix with the fruity raspberry to add a layer of sweetness, which is then cut through by the slight tang of the prosecco at the end.
The Pineapple Club have captured the dramatic essence of Romeo and Juliet through ‘The Last Sip’, helping you to become part of the action yourself. We had a lovely experience here, and regret that we did not have more time to sample some of the other handcrafted cocktails they had to offer. Thank you to the staff who came to ask us about what we thought of ‘The Last Sip’, I would highly recommend that you come and try this stunning cocktail for yourself before it is gone!
Romeo and Juliet – The Birmingham Hippodrome
After 14 months, the Birmingham Royal Ballet has finally been welcomed back at the Birmingham Hippodrome – their home theatre – for a moving performance of the ballet Romeo and Juliet. Having stayed in Birmingham for six performances, the company will now be moving on to Theatre Royal Plymouth at the end of the month for six more.
The classic ballet, choreographed by Sir Kenneth Macmillan, seems to have been the perfect decision for their homecoming. As one of my – and one of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s brilliant Director, Carlos Acosta’s – favourite ballets, the powerful and dramatic performance was a sure way to my heart. As the live orchestra started playing the first few notes of Sergei Prokofiev’s legendary score, the screen lifted and I immediately felt in awe of what was in front of me.
The impressive set is perhaps the most noticeable thing at the beginning of the performance. As the show went on, I counted 5 or 6 main decors, each more detailed and beautiful than the last, with some having add-ons to indicate a different setting. For example, the opening decor of grand stone-like pillars included broken up wooden crates on the ceiling, indicating an outdoor setting. Later on, this same set was used for the outside of Juliet’s house, the only difference being the lighting. The smart use of decor completed the visual aspect of the ballet, alongside the colourful and intricately made costumes.
However, the most important part of the ballet was, of course, the dancers. Beatrice Parma as Juliet has an incredible command of herself and of the stage, and she has made a lasting impression on me. This is only more impressive knowing this was her debut as Juliet. Her clean lines, gorgeous extensions, and strong technique gave her the space to concentrate on her acting – concentration which evidently paid off; her performance as Juliet was wonderful.
In the first act, the audience could perfectly see her as a young, innocent girl falling in love for the first time. At the end of the ballet, her portrayal of the pain Juliet feels as her plan falls apart and the man she loves dies had audience members bringing out tissues. It was evident that this was an important role for Parma, as anyone could see the effort and care that was put into characterisation.
Mathias Dingman played Romeo’s role perfectly, from the blissful smile when thinking of Juliet after seeing a wedding procession to his agonised scream at seeing his beloved dead. Gus Payne as Mercutio brought us a flawless performance, both as a dancer and an actor, and one that certainly marked the audience, hearing the whistles and yells he received during the bows.
Gabriel Anderson as Paris was faultless in his execution of his part. He partnered with Parma for a few pas-de-deux, and seeing he is much taller than her – and knowing how difficult it is to dance with someone much taller or shorter than you – I was all the more impressed with their performance and how effortless their partnering looked. At least, the pas-de-deux during the first act was, as Juliet is very reluctant to dance with Paris in the second one.
Sure, the corps de ballet could have been a little more together in some parts and some fumbling was seen on stage, but overall the Birmingham Royal Ballet delivered an exquisite (and exquisitely tragic) performance. The famous balcony scene captured the attention of all and I would lie if I said I did not tear up a few times. The echoes in the music from Act I, when this is nothing but an innocent love story, to Act III, when the ballet turns into the well-known tragedy, only enhances the heart-rending beauty of the dance.
I was certainly not disappointed by the show, and even though I went in with high expectations, I was not let down. Carlos Acosta and the Birmingham Royal Ballet as a whole provided a wonderful performance, and I would recommend it to anyone. I look forward to seeing their upcoming performances, such as the famed The Nutcracker coming in late November, and the ‘Carlos Curates: R&J Reimagined’ which will include two Romeo and Juliet performances: Romeo + Juliet, in collaboration with the Rosie Kay Dance Company, and Edward Clug’s Radio and Juliet, a performance to music by Radiohead.
Sofia Salazar Studer
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