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Kiss Me, Kate

5
Seen at the Barbican Theatre
By Derek - 3rd Jul 2024

Cole Porter’s classic musical gets an impressive make-over at the Barbican. I’d forgotten how many great comedy roles there are in the show and the cast plant all the laughs beautifully. Adrian Dunbar as Fred Graham / Petruchio and Stephanie J. Block as Lilli Vanessi / Katherine vehemently spark off each other in their war of wit. Dunbar is excellent in the dialogue and his singing soars in “Where is the life that once I led”. Block expertly balances the spoilt diva with the frustrated still-in-love ex-wife and relishes “I hate men”. Their relationship smoulders along with frequent fiery flashes.

Director Bartlett Sher speeds the show along making great use of the splendid set by Set Designer Michael Yeargan. The revolve and storeys are used fluently and allow the piece to progress without pause for breath. Donald Holder’s lighting powerfully heightened the tension. Anthony Van Laast’s choreography is outstanding throughout and gives Charlie Stemp (Bill Calhoun / Lucentio) more opportunity to shine.

Two performances stood out for me: Jack Butterworth as Paul owned “It's too darned hot”; while Georgina Onuorah as Lois Lane / Bianca was a dream, and she stole the night with “I’m always true to you, darling in my fashion”.

Inevitably, the gangsters rule the show. Nigel Lindsay and Hammed Animashaun bring a new urbane interpretation to the roles and revel in the brilliance of “Brush up your Shakespeare”.

Derek Benfield


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