CLASHING swords, waving flags and finesse footwork were in full force as the English National Ballet came to Southampton.

The company’s performance of Romeo and Juliet at the city’s Mayflower Theatre was elegant and sinister in all the right places.

Shakespeare’s classic work, choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev, was filled with colour and energy from the very start.

Prokofiev’s score was also imposing, and gained an extra depth thanks to having a full live orchestra performing the composer’s work.

The most famous part of the score was accompanied by the Capulets waving swords with a feast of movement to catch the eye.

Having both rival families dressed in different colours – red and green – was a helpful touch.

At times, there was so much happening on stage that it would have been hard to keep up with the principal players without the colour scheme.

Indeed, the costumes were excellent with a host of eye-catching outfits.

The packed audience at the theatre certainly had plenty of value for money as well.

With two intervals, the performance took more than three hours, which is a lot of dancing, sword-play and flag waving.

It must have been quite tiring for the dancers, and meant a pretty late night for most of the audience.

A working knowledge of Romeo and Juliet was helpful in terms of getting the most out of this adaptation.

However, a handy précis in the programme gave a snapshot of every scene for those who are a bit rusty when it comes to the bard’s classic tragedy.

The plot takes a back seat to the dancing anyway – appreciating ballet was essential, appreciating Shakespeare was optional.

And for those with a penchant for pirouettes, this was an athletic, energetic and very visual evening’s entertainment.

Romeo and Juliet runs at the Mayflower Theatre until Saturday, October 23. Call the box office on 023 8071 1811 for more details.