‘Kiss Me, Kate’ at The Barbican was brilliant – I’m still singing the songs

98 Reviews

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Things to do

Date of travel

July, 2024

Product name

'Kiss Me, Kate' at The Barbican

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Last week I went with my adult son to see this new adaptation of Cole Porter’s musical – a show within a show based on Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ – and we both enjoyed it immensely. Unfortunately, going to the theatre in London is very expensive these days but as we were staying free in a relative’s vacant flat in South London at least we didn’t have to pay expensive train fares to get there. Ticket prices when I bought them started at £39.50 + booking fee up to eye-wateringly high amounts but they seem to have been adjusted this week with the cheapest ones even cheaper I had booked central seats in the back row of the Gallery, the furthest back and highest from the stage – the best remaining that I could afford, so I wasn’t expecting to see everything clearly, especially as I’ve recently had a cataract operation on one eye and I’m not focusing very well at the moment. I was quite happy just to go and thought I’d still be able to see the dancing and hear the singiing if not the finer details. However, as we started climbing the staircase to our cheap seats a theatre employee asked if we’d like a complimentary upgrade to Row J in the Stalls! Obviously there must have been a few unsold seats in this area of the stalls and management wanted to fill the gaps; we were very lucky to get seats that would have cost over £100 each and we had an amazing view from our almost central seats. I noticed today that the performances have been altered on some days with a matinee replacing the evening performance on Tuesday so if we’d have gone this week we couldn’t have booked a Tuesday evening performance so probably wouldn’t have had upgraded seats.

From the lively, energetic opening number to the last note I was transfixed by the brilliant dancing and singing, the costume, sets and story line; it was amusing and I haven’t seen my son laugh so much in ages. OK, at times it was a bit like a pantomime, with jokes about current issues and places around London and audience participation in ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ sung by the two gangsters, but it was none the worse for that. I thought the leading actors, including Adrian Dunbar, were excellent although he wasn’t the reason I booked the seats. There was a full orchestra playing throughout and as the evening progressed I heard many songs I was familiar with though I’d forgotten they came from this show.

The Barbican theatre has comfortable seats and plenty of leg room; there is no central aisle, which is a bit of a problem, but enough room for people to get past without too much trouble. All the stalls seats apart from the back row require going down stairs to get to them; the back row of the stalls has step free access. I also think the back row of the gallery might have too and I believe there is a lift to that floor and a disabled toilet on that level, but it would be worth ringing to check before booking tickets.

Unfortunately to reach the toilets during the interval from where we were sitting in the stalls required a lot of climbing slowly up to the ground floor as we were held up by those in front and then the inevitable queueing. I had hoped that in a theatre that is not Victorian the toilet facilities might have been larger with more cubicles but there were queues and announcements of ‘cubicles to the right, urinals to the left’! Although there were two or three very helpful ladies in the cubicles section marshalling everyone in as quickly as possible I think the start of the second half of the show was delayed due to the late return to their seats of some of the audience. The show seemed to go down well, there was much applause, cheering and a standing ovations.

At the end we had to walk very quickly to get to Moorgate underground station, asking directions along the way, but we found the Northern Line and got to London Bridge Station with time to spare and with a great deal of relief caught the last train to Gipsy Hill, although we’d had a stressful time getting there: I can’t help feeling that The Barbican is not an ideal location for people having to get anywhere other than central London. However, I’m really glad we went and would do it again if I could, though I don’t suppose we’d be lucky enough to get upgraded tickets again. This show would be a great choice for filming and showing at cinemas around the country. If you like a lively traditional musical comedy then you’ll love Kiss Me, Kate but it’s only on until September.


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