SHOPPERS in St Ives were left in disbelief on Saturday by a publicity stunt that involved 18 teenagers acting out a street brawl. Cambridgeshire police even received two calls from members of the public, concerned about the choreographed fight in Market

SHOPPERS in St Ives were left in disbelief on Saturday by a publicity stunt that involved 18 teenagers acting out a street brawl.

Cambridgeshire police even received two calls from members of the public, concerned about the choreographed fight in Market Hill. Another concerned passer-by asked if a 13-year-old girl was ok after she had been 'slapped in the face'.

The fighting went on for seven minutes - an elaborate publicity stunt for a modern-dress version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet by St Ives Youth Theatre.

The group's artistic director, Jonathan Salt, told The Hunts Post: "We want to apologise to anyone who was upset.

"We had been given permission by the police beforehand to hold the fight and we had understood that a police officer would be present on the day. We were also handing out flyers.

"We have put an apology on our website. The intention was not to cause distress.

"We are staging the play in modern dress because we wanted it to be relevant to modern issues and that is why the cast fought with their hands instead of weapons.

"We did not imagine that people would mistake the fight for a real one. There were girls of 11 and 12 involved. It would be unusual for young girls of that age to be fighting on a Saturday night, let alone on a Saturday morning."

The youngsters have been taught stage-fighting by James Gordon, a dramatist from March, who also works with historical re-enactments.

The show will be at The Free Church St Ives from Wednesday to Saturday next week.

Romeo is played by Max Domini, and Juliet by Aimie Gaudin, both 14-year-old pupils at St Ivo School.

A police spokesman told The Hunts Post: "We received two calls from the public at 11.15am on Saturday morning informing us about the fight but because we knew about it in advance we were able to say that it wasn't real."

INFORMATION: Romeo and Juliet is at the Free Church St Ives from Wednesday, March 4 to Saturday, March 7 at 7pm. Tickets are £7.50 or £5 concessions from Heffers Electrical in St Ives. See: www.siyt.co.uk/rj.html