Kiss Me Kate – Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

Cole Porter’s classic Kiss Me Kate is a bit like a vintage wine, despite its age it still feels as fresh and hilarious today. It may have been written in 1948 but is still ranks as one of Porter’s finest works.

It is also deceptively complex, despite the superficial light and frothy appearance. The lyrics are full of Porter’s trademark wit and rhyme, requiring performers that can deliver convincing musical comedy, a task that many, even experienced performers, fall down on. Thankfully the youthful talent in Suffolk Young People’s Theatre cope admirably and give a first class performance. It is even more a remarkable achievement when you realise that the company are assembled each year and produce the show in just three weeks.

The plot may be familiar and the story often told but this is a production full of credible performances that belies their young age.

In a strong company there are some names to watch out for in the future. Matt Turner and Charlotte Palmer work well together as the sparring Fred and Lilli. Palmer’s raging I Hate Men and Turner’s witty Where Is The Life I Late Have Led being particularly strong.

Naomi Morgan as the flirtatious Lois and her long suffering gambler boyfriend Bill (Sam Hunt) also work well, as does Aidan Napier’s loose limbed General Howell.

There are some moments that would benefit from director Nigel Turner injecting a bit more pace and the slow scene transitions loose audience attention. James Recknell’s conducting at times struggles with the rhythm of Porters score, especially noticeable in the large choral numbers of Another Op’nin’, Another Show and Too Darn Hot which lost momentum and much needed atmosphere.

At the end of the day however it is Suffolk’s emerging young talent we should be focusing on and judging by these bravura performances, the local and national theatre scene has a bright and talented future.

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