Romeo and Juliet, The Birmingham Royal Ballet Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, April 28 THE vision of two men - one near the end of his illustrious life, the other at the start of what promises to be a brilliant career - became reality a year ago. Now the late Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet, recreated for the stage in collaboration with Paul Andrews, the precocious young graduate who rocketed to instant fame with this, his first commission, has reached Hongkong. Rarely have choreographer and designer blended their talents so seamlessly. Like a tapestry brought to life, this ballet dramatises and colours Shakespeare's love story in a way that illuminates, yet never threatens the fabric. Like the best historians, both are concerned with authenticity while never neglecting the human condition. The result is a Romeo and Juliet that remains faithful to Shakespeare while creating thoroughly credible characters and settings. Not for MacMillan the dark glitter and melancholy that have appealed to so many interpreters. His Verona pulsates and its people - whether harlot or prince - are at home in the rich city created by Andrews. To MacMillan, Prokofiev's score was a narrative goldfield and without minimising tragedy or pathos, he also infused this Romeo and Juliet with ribald humour, thrilling action, real novelty - especially fine is Juliet's mandolin-playing scene - and mega-angst. Some of it is seriously over the top - his Lady Capulet and Mercutio take melodrama perilously close to the limits - but ultimately the immortal romance conquers all. In top form on opening night were Vincent Redmon who brought terrific mischief and bravado to his Mercutio and Peter Ottevanger as a vengeful Tybalt. Providing much vivacity were Jillian Mackrill, Karen Waldie and Jessica Clarke as the vulgar strumpets, while Samuel Armstrong (Benvolio) and Duncan de Gruchy (Paris) were firmly in character. And the star-crossed lovers? Romantics had no trouble identifying utterly with that perfect Latin lover Joseph Cipolla, while balletomanes were edified by Marion Tait's beautifully danced and acted Juliet. Only credibility was in short supply. Sadly, no amount of artistic excellence can conjure that first flush of youth or the crucial chemistry it excites.