Tag Archives: Georgina Onuorah




KISS ME, KATE at the Barbican


“This is a blazing production, burning with wit and charm, song and dance, and with a feelgood finale that is far hotter than a British summer”

We are officially in summer in a couple of days’ time, although it might not necessarily feel like it. But a couple of bars into the overture of Cole Porter’s classic, “Kiss Me, Kate” and the clouds disappear. We are instantly put in a good mood, unable to resist the warmth and the joie de vivre this sizzling and silly musical has to offer. Porter is on top form, complemented brilliantly by Sam and Bella Spewack’s book which adopts Shakespeare’s ‘play-within-a-play’ trick, taking its subterfuge to new heights.

Both ‘Taming of the Shrew’ and ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ have gathered accusations of misogyny over time, but if you look deeper, the bard and the songsmith are, in fact, championing women’s rights. And Bartlett Sher’s revival brushes off any remaining crumbs of sexism that may linger with this revival. The sheer force of the two leading ladies’ performances, of course, helps immensely.

The show opens with a curtain call. One that is being rehearsed for the opening night of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Fred (Adrian Dunbar), the egotistical director and producer, is starring as Petruchio while his ex-wife, Lilli (Stephanie J. Block), plays Katherine. The two bicker constantly, like Burton and Taylor on a bad day, yet Dunbar and Block effortlessly reveal the deep-seated, hidden love and affection they still hold for each other. The only casualty here is the ‘will-they-won’t-they’ dynamic – we just know from the off that they’ll eventually reconcile, despite Lilli being betrothed to a strait-laced, regimental General Harrison Howell (a delightful cameo from the underused Peter Davison).



Meanwhile Lois (Georgina Onuorah) and her gambling, misbehaving boyfriend, Bill (Charlie Stemp), are enjoying their own backstage tussles. Not least because there’s a thing going on between Lois and Fred. The shenanigans don’t stay in the green room, however, but are dragged kicking and screaming onto the stage, playing havoc with Shakespeare’s storyline. Throw in a couple of gangsters chasing a gambling debt (Hammed Animashaun and Nigel Lindsay), and the farce is complete.

It is a star-studded production, with an equally starry ensemble. Everyone has a moment to glow in the spotlight, yet nobody outshines anyone else. Each swing, and chorus member, portrays a well-defined, unspoken personality too. Anthony Van Laast’s choreography is stunning, not just visually but also in its storytelling, reaching its climax in the Act Two opener, ‘Too Darn Hot’, which elicited an ovation that finally had to be cut short by the performers themselves, worried that they might miss the last train home.

Matching the dancing skills are the vocal skills. Georgina Onuorah and Stephanie J. Block mix power with fragility, wit with emotion. Onuorah’s show-stopping ‘Always True to You in My Fashion’ is another highlight, while Block’s ‘So in Love’ is steeped in gorgeous torment. Slightly out of his depth, Adrian Dunbar reprises the number. He can hold a tune, for sure, but his vocal shortcomings do stand out against the sheer wall of virtuosity he is surrounded by. Dunbar’s own virtuosity is confined to his character acting and comic timing which is, indeed, spot on. Hammed Animashaun and Nigel Lindsay, on the other hand, are a double act with a triple threat, showcased by their superbly comic performance, and brilliant rendition of ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’.

Catherine Zuber’s costumes perfectly mirror the various elements of the show, mixing the eroticism of the backstage, sultry and sexy glamour with the onstage Elizabethan grandeur. Michael Yeargan’s revolving set seamlessly guides us through the stage door onto the stage, via the dressing rooms and back again. This is a blazing production, burning with wit and charm, song and dance, and with a feelgood finale that is far hotter than a British summer. While it’s definitely not too darn hot outside, inside the Barbican, it’s sizzling.


KISS ME, KATE at the Barbican

Reviewed on 18th June 2024

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Johan Persson






Previously reviewed at this venue:

LAY DOWN YOUR BURDENS | ★★★ | November 2023



Click here to see our Recommended Shows page





The Other Palace



The Other Palace

Reviewed – 15th July 2022



“Hannah Benson’s immersive staging bubbles with an energy”


There is, and always has been, debate about the purpose or usefulness of demographic tags. But whether we like them or not, or whether they influence an individual or a group of personalities, the labels are here to stay.

If you are a ‘Millennial’ you witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks that shook the world, and were likely to be old enough to comprehend its historical significance. You grew up in the shadow of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; you will have watched the erosion of the global political climate. Reaching adulthood, you would have walked headlong into the height of an economic recession. And the internet has pretty much always been there for you.

Is this significant?

If you are a ‘Millennial’ (according to psychologists) you are likely to be confident, but also confused. You are tolerant, but have an overblown sense of entitlement. You are generous, but at the same time narcissistic. In other words, you merely possess the contradictions that make us human.

Elliot Clay has written a song cycle that tells these Millennials’ stories. But he runs up against the same problems. For the most part they come across as merely human stories; under the Millennial banner. And it is a banner that is waved flamboyantly. Colourful yet superficial. There is little that earmarks a Millennial’s ownership of the subject matter. So we are left with a song cycle. And there is nothing wrong with that. Clay has composed some very fine numbers here. But a trick has been missed, and what is slightly frustrating about the show is the awareness that some sort of thread could have been weaved into the overall concept; or something to bind the characters into some sort of collective. To give them a real, solid context or journey.

Fortunately, that reservation in no way extends to the presentation. Hannah Benson’s immersive staging bubbles with an energy that sweeps aside the misgivings and allows us just to have fun. Andrew Exeter’s design matches, and supersedes, the sheer pizzazz. The Other Palace is transformed into a candied, Wonka-like, emporium. Part disco, part adventure playground; shimmering with colours that overflow with e-numbers. You can taste the sweetness of the set.

The performances are the main attraction. Despite most of their energy being channelled into Tinovimbanashe Sibanda’s slick choreography, the cast of six unleash their glorious voices to the crowd with the dynamism and craftmanship befitting the cream of Musical Theatre. Clay’s songs and lyrics are given the starry treatment and they have the appeal to stand their ground, but “Millennials”, as a show, lacks the cohesive ingredients to ensure a similar longevity. But as a gig, it’s a pretty good night out.



Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Mark Senior



The Other Palace until 7th August


All our reviews this month so far – click to read:

I Can’t Hear You | ★★★★ | Theatre503 | July 2022

The Hive | ★★★ | Hoxton Hall | July 2022

Report to an Academy | | Old Red Lion Theatre | July 2022

Barefoot in the Park | ★★★★ | The Mill at Sonning | July 2022

Flat and Curves | ★★★★★ | Toulouse Lautrec | July 2022

Hungry | ★★★★★ | Soho Theatre | July 2022

Pennyroyal | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | July 2022

Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet | ★★★★ | Leicester Square Theatre | July 2022


Click here to see our most recent reviews