Matthew White’s production of Kiss Me Kate is played out with energy, vitality and mischief in the idyllic setting of Kilworth House Theatre.
The company relishes the capering, posturing and stylised acting of the mock-Shakespearian scenes, and transitions seamlessly to a 1940s backstage world brimming with activity and intrigue.
It’s the variety of choreography within big company numbers that is compelling. The dancing seems to break out of nowhere, something best illustrated in Too Darn Hot, arguably the best number in the show. A moody saxophone solo gives way to something just slightly up tempo. There’s a ripple of awakening and before you know it, it’s all electricity and jitterbugging. Then there’s a return to sultriness and something almost balletic before a big chorus-line finish.
Caroline Sheen stands out as the glamorous Hollywood star, Lilli Vanessi, spitting venom as Katharine and rising to something exquisite in her solo number, So in Love. She has a fine rapport with Matthew McKenna as Fred, her ex-husband in the backstage world and her Petruchio in the Shrew.
Monique Young is an impish and engaging Lois Lane/Bianca, and the show is almost stolen by the two absurd Gangsters, Cory English and Carl Sanderson, whose rendering of Brush Up Your Shakespeare is superb.
The whole thing sparkles on Paul Farnsworth’s set, with its gilded proscenium arch and painted backcloths. And Cole Porter’s lyrics are still delicious: “He may have hair upon his chest,” sings Katharine. “But sister, so does Lassie.”