Corrie’s Katherine Kelly attracts rave reviews in She Stoops to Conquer

The former Becky McDonald impresses at the National Theatre after leaving the cobbles behind to tread the boards

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She’s not Becky any more, she’s Kate Hardcastle…

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It may only be a few weeks since Ms McDonald packed her bags and flew off to Barbados with the man of her dreams, but already Katherine Kelly is back in the public eye.

However, this time it’s not for her public spats with Tracy Barlow or her ex-husband, Steve, it’s for a critically acclaimed performance in the National Theatre’s new production of She Stoops to Conquer. 

So, how are the critics rating the former Corrie star’s performance in Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 classic, opposite Steve Pemberton and Sophie Thompson?

Well, The Guardian’s Michael Billington was suitably impressed, awarding the show four stars, noting a “highly impressive Kelly.”  He added: “As the well-born Kate Hardcastle she is obliged, somewhat ironically in view of her role in Corrie, to pose as a barmaid, but even she gets legitimate laughs by her hip-twitching gait and air of sexual mischief.”

Charles Spencer on The Telegraph wrote: “Katherine Kelly, late of Coronation Street, brings superb assurance to the role of [Marlow’s] intended, Kate Hardcastle, brimming with mischief in the barmaid scenes, but suggesting a delightful mixture of sense and sensibility when she plays her true self.”  Overall, he described the performance as “fresh, spirited and often blissfully funny.”

Paul Taylor on The Independent wrote: “Fresh from Coronation Street, the endearingly lanky Katherine Kelly gives a performance of beautifully natural and unforced comic authority as Kate, the daughter of the house who masquerades as a serving-girl to check out Marlow.”

And Libby Purves in The Times described Kelly’s “skilful” performance and said she gives “us Coronation Street fans a blissful memory of her years as wild Becky.”

Indeed, with such good reviews, it’s no wonder the Rada trained actress feels so at home back in the theatre.

“When I left Coronation Street I wondered if I could ever be lucky enough to work with such a unanimously wonderful company of good people – and I’ve just come to that good bunch again,” she said today.

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“I feel so lucky and it comes across in the play. The audiences are loving it.”