11 January 2019

Kate

Edward Baker-Duly and Rebecca Lock in the lead roles
Last night I went to see a production of "Kiss Me, Kate" at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield's city centre. I travelled in a taxi with four other regulars from our local pub. Another one couldn't make it because he was ill.

I hadn't seen a production of this fairly famous musical before. It was first performed at the Shubert Theatre in Philadelphia in December 1948. It was written by Samuel and Bella Spewack with original songs by the legendary Cole Porter.

The Sheffield production was excellent with faultless renditions of the songs, vibrant dance routines and imaginative stagecraft. It all blended together superbly and there was a twenty strong orchestra palely illuminated on a raised area at the back of the thrust stage.

Though there weren't any badger holes, sometimes I "got lost" in the entertainment - forgetting myself, absorbed by the theatrical chicanery in front of me. But in spite of the excellence of the production there were other phases when my mind wandered away. I guess that the silliness of the core story wasn't truly my cup of tea.

You can find out about the plot - that core story -  elsewhere if you really want to. Essentially there is a play within a play. The inner play is Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" but the audience's main focus is upon the backstage dynamics as the ups and downs of relationships between lead actors are revealed. It all ends happily when the shrew - Lily Vanessi/Katharine submits to the romantic overtures of  Fred Graham/ Petruchio as the tensions of backstage and the Shakespearean production are healed with a final dramatic kiss.

We travelled back to the suburbs in another taxi - arriving at our pub at 10.30pm. But the doors were locked. The pub is meant to stop serving at 11.15pm so we had been looking forward to a couple of pints to round off the evening. Reluctantly, the young Irish barman let us in and equally reluctantly he deigned to pour us one pint each but no more. 

Bizarrely, I believe he thought he was doing us a favour when it is of course our money that pays his wages. This isn't the first time he has unilaterally decided to shut up shop on a quiet evening. The ignorant manager/landlord isn't the kind of bloke it's worth complaining to. He just doesn't seem to care either. As "Kiss Me, Kate" proved - it really can be a mad world.

14 comments:

  1. I haven't been to a play since, well, I was in one. Oh, I miss that time of my life! But somehow, it just doesn't seem like what I'm supposed to be doing right now.
    I think you and your mates need a different pub.

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    1. You are right but it is the only one in easy walking distance and I have been a regular there for thirty years. When you were last in a play were you The Virgin Mary?

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  2. Wow! I'm surprised the barman wasn't happy for the business! People are so strange. I saw "Kiss Me Kate" in the early '80s when our high school drama club did a production of the original "Taming of the Shrew." We watched the musical just to get another dimension on the story.

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    1. You are a very cultured man Steve. No wonder you find litter particularly offensive. Which part did you play in "The Taming of the Shrew"?

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  3. Maybe you need to buy up that pub and set things to rights!

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    1. If I won The National Lottery I would do and I would change the pub's name to "The Perfect Pudding"!

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  4. I have not seen Kiss Me Kate either. Sounds like it was a good evening except for the fellow who didn't want to sell you any beer.

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    1. There's always somebody who wants to spoil the party.

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  5. Boy! That sure is an oldie...a musical of long years gone by.

    I suppose the publican and barman believe with the high costs of running a place these days is strangling. if they've not had any patrons for a hour or so late in the evening and don't expect to have any more late callers it would be a saving of power costs, wages etc., to shut said doors. Obviously, it's their way of thinking that four pints don't cover the costs of remaining open.

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    1. I have been going in that pub for thirty years and under this new manager we have experienced this kind of thing for the first time. He seems to be actively discouraging customers. The young barmen are paid up to midnight.

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  6. I think I would have enjoyed the play however I'd have been miffed, too, if I returned and found the pub closed. Mind you midweek at 1030 and empty one can see his point of view. Although once you turned up his attitude obviously left a great deal to be desired.

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    1. In the past that pub followed the displayed opening times to the letter.

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  7. I was in Mr Pudding's party to the theatre that evening. We had all met up in the pub for drinks before the taxi came, and the bar-staff knew we would be back after the show. To find the doors locked not long after 10:30 was a shock. The pub, which is my local as well, normally serves until 11:15. When we were let in we were only allowed one drink each, a very disappointing end to the evening. As I left, I suggested in a friendly way to the barman that he could have sold another 4 pints. He replied dismissively, “Yeah, only 4 pints. That's all.” They’re obviously selling too much beer.

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    1. I guess it's one way to reduce one's consumption of beer Tykewriter.

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