Those who believe the words of Shakespeare are sacrosanct should get a ticket for Sir Kenneth MacMillan?s balletic version of Romeo and Juliet, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
For here, the bard?s words could add nothing to the telling of the greatest love story of all time. Indeed, MacMillan?s remake has several advantages over the original ? Prokofiev?s wonderful score and lavish sets and costumes seemingly straight from the palette of the Italian fresco painters.
Performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet, the work has all the expected power and passion and real-life couple Rachel Peppin and Robert Parker are convincing ill-starred lovers.
Peppin, dancing her final season before retiring, is a fine dramatic dancer and portrays the teenage Juliet with innocence that belie her 35 years. She mixes this with an almost agonising intensity in the third act that pays homage to the excellent coaching of company ballet mistress Marion Tait.
The charismatic Parker dances with youthful dash. His floppyhaired Romeo is a blend of Jackthelad meets, well, Romeo. Any girl would be a fool not to fall in love.
The fencing scenes are edge-of-the-seat spectacular and well rehearsed. Mercutio takes a tad too long to die to make it credible but that?s a choreographic blip rather than any fault of the elegantly witty Chi Cao. Lee Fisher, another BRB veteran about to retire, gets the better deal as Tybalt. He still dies but at least it?s quick.
Soloist Kosuke Yamamoto stands out as the lead in the Mandolin dance, despite a silly raggle-taggle costume.
Something for everyone, then. Blood, power, lust, romance, intrigue ? more deaths than an episode of Midsomer Murders. Great costumes, plus a musical score to die for, or to.
Running time: Two hours, 50 minutes until Saturday.