Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare’s play of star-crossed lovers is one of unfortunate timing as much as anything else: for the Icarus Theatre Collective hitting town at the same time as the RSC makes for some unhappy comparisons.

This is a young and pared-down cast attempting one of the bard’s best-loved plays, and while they make a decent stab of it their inexperience shows in places.

Kaiden Dubois lacks range as Romeo (though perhaps that’s right for an adolescent boy), but Katrina Gibson makes up for this with a more astutely observed Juliet.

David McLaughlin has a hard task taking on both Mercutio and the Friar but acquits himself admirably, even if Max Lewendel’s direction does seem to condemn him to binary states of crotch-holding or looking down. The strongest performance is Gemma Barrett’s Nurse: she milks the comic scenes nicely and with the kind of caricature that makes the role such fun.

Gabrielle Dempsey steps into the role of Tybalt with due passion (although the inverted gender references grate a little: “gentlewoman” has different metre) and tries her best with some overly complex fight scenes that end up lacking vigour. They are too slow, too staged and lack the tensions and thrill that clashing metal should bring to the stage.

Not the greatest love story ever told, but not a bad one.