KISS ME KATE 4 SEPTEMBER 2019 WATERMILL THEATRE.
Another Op-nin, Another Show beckoned us into this musical comedy with an exciting young company of multi-talented actor/musicians spilling onto the Watermill’s tiny stage. Energy oozed through their limbs in exhilarating choreography to their own big brassy arrangements taking them (and the audience) backstage on opening night into Baltimore City’s theatre world of the late 1940s.
Malcolm had treated us to front row seats (risky for some), where the stage’s simple back wall set needed no more than an illuminated sign and ‘his and hers’ dressing-room tables to conjure up this intimate revival of Cole Porter’s celebration of Shakespeareana. Using the play-within-a-play framework, Kiss Me, Kate was conceived when a young stage manager was amused to hear stars in a Broadway production of Taming of the Shrew, mirroring their onstage roles with bickering offstage and the subsequent production was born, later becoming Porter’s most successful show.
The multitasking, multiracial ensemble captured their audience in Act One, with numbers like Wunderbar and I Hate Men being belted out with frivolous abandon but Act Two brought more.
Where Is The Life That Late I Led could lead you to believe a mournful depiction followed but you would be wrong. Weaving within the audience, the lead headed straight for Emma in that risky front seat and we laughed at their tender yet jovial encounter, before he preyed on others throughout the theatre, mistakenly thinking they would be safe from any audience-participation embarrassment.
The cast kept us laughing until the end and Shakespeare’s translation of the basic elements of the human condition and human relationships triumphed again.
I loved this musical and I love the Watermill theatre. Join us another time for front row seats, if you dare!
Rosemary de Wilde