Theatre reviews: Richard III and Kiss Me Kate

Reece Dinsdale as Richard III at the West Yorkshire Playhouse
Reece Dinsdale as Richard III at the West Yorkshire Playhouse
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Richard III, West Yorkshire Playhouse, reviewed by Sarah Hall ****

AFTER his stunning turn as Alan Bennett in Untold Stories last year, Reece Dinsdale returns to the playhouse stage to take on another of Yorkshire’s legendary sons.

But beware, this is not the recently romanticised version of the Richard discovered in a car park. This is very much Shakespeare’s Richard. Treacherous, villainous, child- killing Richard – the version of the king Yorkshire could happily wash its hands of and let Leicester claim.

Dinsdale throws himself into the complex title role with gusto – and, in places, humour. There are moments when he balances precariously on the edge of going over the top with a character which can so easily fall into caricature, yet he manages to pull himself back each time. In short, he’s just wonderfully vile.

He is backed by a strong ensemble cast – many in dual roles – who play out the action against a stark yet striking set and from costumes to music the whole thing is given a cool 1950s jazz vibe.

It’s a highly stylised production and a hugely enjoyable one which is sure to get your blood racing as the onstage body count rises.

Sarah Hall

• At the West Yorkshire Playhouse until October 17.

Kiss Me Kate, Leeds Grand Theatre, reviewed by David Denton ****

The ever resourceful Opera North have once again ventured into the world of Broadway musicals, with a new and hugely successful production of Cole Porter’s comedy, Kiss Me, Kate.

It is one of the most complex and expensive shows to stage and director, Jo Davies, achieves the numerous scene changes with a smooth and slick efficiency. The play within a play relates the problems that befall the touring company who are presenting Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

As the story progresses the events on stage become all too familiar with the private lives of the actors, further confused when two crooks turn up demanding payment of a gambling debt.

Opera North’s customary mix of opera singers and stars from London’s West End musicals has this time not quite worked out, the vocally excellent Jeni Bern, in the leading role of Kate, rather too stiff and starchy for the Shrew, and Quirijn De Lang not quite in the mould of a swashbuckling Petruchio.

That left the door wide open for Tiffany Graves to steal the show as the sexy Lois Lane, dancing and singing her way superbly through the show-stopping Why Can’t You Behave and Always True to You Darling in My Fashion.

There is not a weak link anywhere in the rest of the cast and with the luxury of an opera orchestra, the American conductor, David Charles Abell, has here recreated the original Broadway score.

• Further performances at the Grand Theatre tomorrow night and 24, 30 & 31 October, before touring to Newcastle, Salford and Nottingham.