I saw my first ever Shakespeare play at the Everyman.

It was Richard III and it was set in a world dominated by skinheads and bovver boys.

I was hooked and still am on their unique takes on the Bard.

This version of Romeo and Juliet sees our starry-eyed lovers as two gay men.

George Caple is Romeo and Elliott Kingsley is Julius.

They are demanding roles for any actor but these two talented stars-in-the-making rise to the challenge.

Alas, I simply wasn’t convinced that the all-empowering love was there and I so wanted it to be.

Both George and Elliott act their hearts out, but I couldn’t see how the almost passive Julius could become an item with street-wise Romeo.

They would have needed sessions with a love-potion apocathery to get their - and our blood levels rising.

That said, again we see the Everyman being brave, bold and breaking the mould.

It is a creative success for director Nick Bagnall who pulls out all the stops in this dark and brooding version.

Designer Molly Elizabeth Lacey Davies uses the most of the in-the-round theatre stage.

Composer James Fortune provides a vast array of atmospheric sounds I was reminded of the Pet Shop Boys with one segment and there’s a clever re-adaptation of the Buzzcocks classic Ever Fallen in Love.

There are fine performances from Richard Bremner as Friar Laurence and Melanie La Barrie as the scene-stealing nurse.

Dean Nolan is at his vociferous, agile and expressive best as Mercutio.

There’s strong visual imagery notably a Derek Jarman-styled flower-adorned funeral procession.

Add vibrant fight choreography and superb lighting throughout the two hour and 40 minute production and you can appreciate the dedication that has gone into this final play in the new Rep company’s opening season.

Finally – congratulations to the exciting YEP (Young Everyman Playhouse) who really are outstanding with their contribution including: Principles, Isobel Balchin (Benvolio) and Alice Corrigan (Baltashar); the Woman’s chorus and the 25 strong-actors.

The future looks good with so much talent in the ranks – youth working with experience... it always pays off.

Brave and bold - until June 7.

FOUR STARS (includes one for the YEP).

Tickets are available from the box office on 0151 709 4776.