TWO Noble Kinsmen is no great Shakes in Shakespeare's canon – a late work from the days when he was making the top 40, not the top spot – but Tom Straszewski has made a decent fist of it. Or, rather, a decent pistols at dawn of it.

Written by Shakespeare in tandem with rising talent John Fletcher, this "deeply ambiguous play", as Straszewski calls it, forms York Shakespeare Project's 33rd production and he has brought plenty to its central story of the kinsmen of the title, cousin Theban princes Arcite (Jim Paterson) and Palamon (Ruben Wollny) falling for the same Amazonian princess, Emilia (Jennie Wogan).

They are prisoners of Theseus, Duke of Athens (Thomas Jennings), and given that French prisoners of war used to stage plays, Straszewski has seen fit to shift the setting from Elizabethan to Georgian times: a lovely excuse for even lovelier Jane Austen-style costumes by Whitney Ivey; a Morris dance arranged by Shiptonthorpe's Ravens Morris; fiddle tunes played by Jonathan Brockbank and scenic backdrops to complement the De Grey Rooms Ballroom.

It was still a misogynistic world, one that makes a "prison" for Emilia, tormented by her own feelings never being considered, and the Gaoler's Daughter (the outstanding Meredith Stewart), whose fraying mental state and obsession with Palamon recalls Ophelia in Hamlet.

More directly, Kinsmen echoes Chaucer's The Knight's Tale and revisits A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the way the three Queens (Cynthia Wood, Nanci Turner and Joy Turner) are played in black veils, they could be Macbeth's "secret, black, and midnight hags". Likewise, Janice Newton, Lilou Poschen and Nance Turner's Rustics recall the 'Midsummer' Mechanicals' play.

So many comparisons, and a vastly inferior script to all those superior plays, could suggest a struggle to bring individuality to a minor work, but Straszewski's confident reinvention benefits rather than nobbles Two Noble Kinsmen's passion play, right down to the Wooer being turned into a woman (Jess Murray) to recall Anne Lister, "Britain's first modern lesbian", who married her wife at Holy Trinity, Goodramgate.

Songs and merry May dancing and an array of fights fare better than the clunky moments of "comedy" with a baboon handler, but Stewart, Wogan, Paterson and Wollny successfully rise to the challenge of making a strange play less strange.

Two Noble Kinsmen, York Shakespeare Project, De Grey Rooms Ballroom, York, 7pm tonight; 2pm and 7pm tomorrow. Box office: 01904 623568, at or on the door.