After the toe-tapping success of Anything Goes at the Barbican, here's another frothy Cole Porter musical to lift the spirits - only this time with doublets, hose, and a pair of comedy gangsters.

Bartlett Sher's entertaining and proficient Kiss Me, Kate revival revels in the backstage musical-within-a-musical, with Michael Yeargan's fluidly revolving set and banging dressing room doors lending the off/on-stage antics a screwball energy.

It's Noises Off meets Some Like It Hot as Hammed Animashaun and Nigel Lindsay's parodied gangsters pursue a gambling debt apparently run up by harried producer Fred Graham (Highgate's own Adrian Dunbar).

Stephanie J Block and Adrian Dunbar in Kiss Me Kate at The BarbicanStephanie J Block and Adrian Dunbar in Kiss Me, Kate at The Barbican (Image: Johan Persson)

He's trying to sweet talk his volatile co-star and recently divorced ex Lilli Vanessi (Stephanie J Block) while staging a cod musical of The Taming of the Shrew.

Dunbar's casting raised an eyebrow due to his musical theatre inexperience, but while he handles the wisecracking timing of Bella and Sam Spewack's script with aplomb, his singing is hit and miss (some wavering notes), and he's wisely kept away from too much dancing.

Happily the musical stars around him shine brightly. Block is Broadway royalty and on fine vocal form as the feisty Lilli, giving comic heft to the tempestuous I Hate Men, and loading So In Love with bittersweet late-life yearning.

An underused Charlie Stemp gets his moment in an exhilirating hoof-off with Jack Butterworth's dresser Paul, in sexy full company number Too Darn Hot (with great choreography from Anthony Van Laast).

Charlie Stemp and Georgina Onuorah in Kiss Me KateCharlie Stemp and Georgina Onuorah in Kiss Me, Kate (Image: Johan Persson)

Georgina Onuorah brings the house down as Lois Lane with the charming, vocally powerful, Always True to You (In My Fashion), and the gangsters' vaudeville style routine Brush Up Your Shakespear is a hoot.

But whether the whole adds up to the sum of its parts is another matter.

Porter's pastiche numbers for the Shrew musical (We Open In Venice, I Come To Wive It Wealthily In Padua) sit oddly alongside the backstage jazzy numbers, and the subplot between Stemp's Bill (the real instigator of the gambling debt) and Onuorah's materialistic Lois is too thin to be involving.

Block and the charismatic Dunbar never quite convince as second-chance lovers, and as with Shakespeare's original, the sexual politics are pretty dubious.

But the energy and humour carry it through.

Kiss Me, Kate runs at The Barbican until September 14.