Trevor Nunn's Kiss Me, Kate revival is an absolute joy

Nov 29, 2012

Cole Porter's battle-of-the-sexes comedy is 'a tried and tested Rolls Royce of a show'

What you need to know
Trevor Nunn's production of Cole Porter's celebrated 1948 comedy musical Kiss Me, Kate has opened at the Old Vic in London. This co-production with the Chichester Festival Theatre was first staged in Chichester in June.

Kiss Me, Kate uses the play-within-a-play structure, to tell the story of a production of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and the conflict on and off-stage between Fred Graham, the show's director, producer, and star, and the leading lady, his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi.

Actress and singer Hannah Waddingham (Into the Woods, Spamalot) stars as Lilli Vanessi. Popular West End performer Alex Bourne plays Fred Graham. Runs until 2 March.

What the critics like
Nights at the theatre don't come much more enjoyable than this, says Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph. Trevor Nunn is "fine-tuning a tried and tested Rolls-Royce of a show" with the effervescent wit and unforgettable melodies of Cole Porter's songs and a script that "crackles with comic energy and great one-liners".

A real beaut of a show, says Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail. Hannah Waddingham is "a bodice-burster built like Boudica" with a voice that can "switch in an instant from warbly knees-up to husky ballad".

With her huge voice and sheer charisma Waddingham is perfect as the touching Lilli and swaggering Kate, says Christopher Hart in The Sunday Times, and the choreography is "an absolute joy".

What they don't like
At times Nunn's revival threatens to dissolve into an assortment of impressive but loosely related numbers, says Henry Hitchins in the Evening Standard. But what it lacks in drive, it makes up for in "visual lushness and musical richness".

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