Romeo and Juliet Review Young Vic 2003

Imagine the 'star-cross'd' lovers literally suspended in space, just a hand separating them from dropping into oblivion as they clutch each other in rapture? Well, this is one of Vesturport's more effective interpretations of Shakespeare's classic text which has to be applauded for its novelty value if not always for its dramatic conviction.

Hailing from Iceland this likeable team of acrobats and actors radically reinvent the Bard, staying true to the spirit if not the literal language of the original as they present an aerial version of the play. Using springboards, a miniature trampoline and, quite literally flinging themselves into action, they bring a healthy dose of humour and irreverence but sometimes miss their target, injecting zest at the expense of fully engaging their audience.

Yes, there are jokes galore, right from the start as the ringmaster, Peter, banters with the crowd before the madcap troupe burst into action. There's a male Nurse, a female Benvolio and, in the most enjoyable transformation, the sycophantic Paris reinvented as a kitsch Seventies crooner. For anyone whose previous experience of the Bard has been faithfully traditional, this will certainly be revelatory but great as it is to see innovation, the production needs to be far tighter to manage the tricky balancing act between style and substance.

(Amanda Hodges)

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