Kiss Me, Kate
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

OPERA North sets the standard in the UK for breadth of repertoire and this production of Cole Porter and Bella and Sam Spewak’s backstage musical based on Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew fits perfectly into that recent history, bringing all the benefits of an established opera company to a glorious Broadway score.

It is also quite spookily well-timed, and that can only be by accident as much as good judgement. If Kiss Me, Kate was a very smart and sassy response to a problematic Elizabethan text in 1948, the questions it grappled with light-heartedly 70 years ago are so obviously at the heart of contemporary concerns that no amount of carefully-realised period detail in set and costume can obscure it.

You would be a desperately sad sack if you allowed such issues to harm your enjoyment of a show with an ending that can hardly been seen as a triumph for feminism, but Jo Davies’s production (revived here by Ed Goggin) leaves room to acknowledge that – and this cast has no weak links at all.

Top vocal performance comes from Stephanie Corley (last seen as Tina in Scottish Opera’s Flight) in the “title” role, but this is an ensemble show with the chorus moving well enough to blur the lines between them and the dancers (even if Alan Burkitt’s tap routine ultimately steals those honours), and the orchestra as swinging a big band as you would wish to hear, when that is required.

The second act is simply a succession of showstoppers, from the chorus opener, Too Darn Hot. Quirijn de Lang wrings everything from Where Is The Life That Late I Led?, revealing it to be as witty as anything else in the score. Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin’s front-of-the-cloth Brush Up Your Shakespeare is perfect from curtain-fumble to coda, and Zoe Rainey preens her way delightfully through as many false endings and extra verses in Always True To You In My Fashion.

But #moi aussi? Eh, … non.