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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kiss Me Kate, theatre review

Published in The Guardian

Kiss Me Kate

Pitlochry Festival
3 out of 5

The lights come up on the second half, and the Pitlochry summer ensemble shows its colours. It is time for Too Darn Hot, Cole Porter's slinky, sticky jazz number, and the large cast is out in force. As with the company's first musical, Whisky Galore, nominated in Sunday's Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland, the actors not only prove themselves fine singers, but also spirited musicians, bringing clarinets and saxophones with them on stage. This time, they also dance.

It's an exuberant display, eclipsed in intensity only by Kate Quinnell's rendition of Always True to You in My Fashion, a gutsy solo as tightly choreographed as it is formidably performed. John Durnin's production is confidently sung and slickly staged, but too many of the songs have only a tangential connection to the story of two feuding actors performing a bowdlerised version of The Taming of the Shrew.

This is a weakness of the original – that and its curious failure to challenge the misogyny of Shakespeare's play – but it isn't helped by a production that makes little distinction between the characters' backstage and on-stage personas. In the stage-door scenes, the actors strip the script of its comedy by signalling their reactions. In the on-stage scenes, they give no sense of whether their showbiz troupe is good, bad or indifferent, making it hard to tell where their "real" emotions are showing through.

Martine McMenemy and Graham Vick perform the Katherine and Petruchio roles with zest and authority, but it's hard to care whether or not they are reunited. The music, rather than the romance, carries the show.

In rep until 16 October. Box office: 01796 484626.

© Mark Fisher 2010

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