Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most adapted plays; whether for TV, film or the stage.

As such, most people know the story or at least its tragic finale and therefore it can be difficult to surprise an audience.

It’s clear this was a challenge the director, Sally Cookson, couldn’t resist as she brings her take on the bard’s tale to the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

The first thing you notice as you enter the auditorium is the imposing, minimalist set design which consumes the stage with its raw industrial feel and immediately sets the tone for this contemporary adaption.

You almost felt like you had stepped into a warehouse which had many a secret to tell.

As the lights begin to dim, you’re introduced to one of the stars of this performance, the music.

Benji Bower has produced a stunning score which perfectly mirrors the impending tragedy, as well as adding a real sense of depth to the whole show.

Whilst mostly instrumental and often you feel like you’re in an 80’s underground nightclub, Sharon D Clarke’s vocal performances were intense and moving.

There were a couple of occasions when the music became a little intrusive and drowned out some of the dialogue, but this is a minor criticism when considering the excellent quality of the work here.

Surrey Comet:

Surrey Comet:

The modern feel is also reflected in the costume design, which includes suits, leather jackets and sporty trainers for the cast, allowing them to run, jump, climb and crawl around the set which helps energise what could have been another standard adaptation of a Shakespeare play.

The music and costume design married together well, with the movement and dance sections fitting seamlessly into the play, adding another dimension to this intense tragedy.

The cast are superb too, bringing their own spin and originality to their roles. Stand out performances came from Laura Elphinstone (Mercutio) Audrey Brisson (Juliet) and making his professional stage debut, Daniel Ezra (Benvolio).

The director’s decision to have woman play some of the male roles in the production was inspired. Allowing those actors to attack the powerful dialogue with relish and in turn bring about some fantastic performances.

For those not versed in Shakespeare and a little intimidated by the vernacular, this is a great version of the play to see, as the pace moves quickly and is brought to life by more than just the text.

For those Romeo and Juliet veterans, you’ll enjoy revisiting this classic piece of poetic work with a modern spin.