Making Romeo & Juliet ‘street’, the Royal Shakespeare Company bring Erica Whyman’s new take on Shakespeare’s classic romantic tragedy to Bradford where Leo Owen caught the show .

Whyman’s opening is unconventional with immediate obvious gender shifts (Gregory, Prince Escalus…) and multiple characters delivering lines from the play’s prologue almost in direct competition with each other. She is clearly catering for teenage viewers through Tom Piper’s slick contemporary costume design and casting a young company, diverse in ethnicity and gender, to represent today’s multi-cultural society.

Kate Waters’ fight direction is unfortunately one of the play’s weaker components with the opening fight between servants looking overly staged; a too calm, downplayed pivotal fight scene; and breathing corpses. Whyman’s decision to even up the male-female ratio works well but not all cast members believably portray their character. Romeo’s (Bally Gill) first appearance is far too upbeat and Tybalt (Raphael Sowole) is cold and calculating, but not fiery enough, during the Capulet’s party after overhearing Romeo’s voice.

That said, Paris (Afolabi Alli) is appropriately creepy and Capulet’s (Michael Hodgson) anger at Juliet’s disobedience is convincing and actually quite sinister ,while both Ishia Bennison and Andrew French, as the Nurse and Friar Laurence, give the strongest and perhaps most genuine performances. As Juliet, Karen Fishwick comes into her own in the dramatically sped-up and mercifully shorter second half.

Piper’s set is simple and has a modern industrial feel with a central open-sided metal cube and stairs leading upwards, employed for balcony scenes.

RSC manage to give Romeo & Juliet a fresh look and feel but the production suffers from being overly comedic at times. Fans may find it lacking and a tad juvenile, but perhaps this is what it needs to reach audiences matched in age to the central protagonists and those likely studying it for their GCSEs.

*Romeo & Juliet was performed at The Alhambra from February 12 to 16. For more details visit .