Stage review: Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok - Crucible Studio, Sheffield

For a play based in Hong Kong, Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok feels surprisingly Northern, not least because central character Helen is originally from Manchester with the accent to match.

Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok is on in Sheffield.  (Jonathan Keenan).
Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok is on in Sheffield. (Jonathan Keenan).

But, there are also references to Brexit, the Northern Powerhouse and the fact that Chinese money is regenerating the North of England.

It is not a piece about the North though, it is about the migration of Helen’s family from Hong Kong to Middleton and the food that holds the generations together. The Lily in the title refers to Helen’s grandmother who Helen summons once she arrives in Hong Kong and feels out of place in a country she thinks should be her ‘home’.

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Helen challenges Lily on the fact she knows nothing of her past. Consequently, Lily invites Helen into her past, retracing her steps as a maid, suffering through the war and eventually journeying together to England. To begin with, the timeline and characters are hard to follow and there are a number of plot lines that are never clarified, but as Lily points out, memories are often disorganised. Once acclimatised to the fluid timeframe, the combination of physical theatre and storytelling makes for a riveting journey through Hong Kong’s history that is at once full of hope and horrific hardship.

Hannah Clugston 4/5

Review: Kiss Me Kate, Leeds Grand Theatre

Combining Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew with an incident-prone company touring the play around Italy, provided Cole Porter with his musical, Kiss Me, Kate, and it gave Opera North one of its finest productions. Directed by Jo Davies, it was a traditional presentation, this revival in the Grand Theatre coming as a warm-up for the company’s season in London’s West End using much the same cast as in the 2015 Leeds premiere.

Packed with the unforgettable hit tunes, So in Love, Brush up your Shakespeare, Wunderbar and Too Darn Hot they almost vie for space in Porter’s fabulous score, the cast is headed-up by the Dutch baritone, Quirijn De Lang as an ideal swashbuckling Petruchio, and Stephanie Corley as a suitably volatile Kate. Making her UK debut as Bianca, the vivacious Zoe Rainey almost stole the show with her Always True to You in my Fashion, with Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin milking every last drop of humour as the two bumbling gangsters. The big scenes, with the large chorus, were shoehorned onto the small Grand Theatre stage, and in readiness for the London performances the company have put together the best dance team they have ever had. And I guess their outstanding orchestra, here conducted by James Holmes, is probably be the largest ever seen in West End.

David Denton 5/5