Monday, July 01, 2013

'The Taming of The Shrew' by William Shakespeare

1 July 2013

The blatant misogyny of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of The Shrew’ makes it an uncomfortable play for modern audiences. The last production I saw was directed by Lucy Bailey for the Royal Shakespeare Company (reviewed here in March 2012) – a female director who chose to emphasise the framing of the story as Christopher Sly’s dream by situating all the action upon (or within!) an enormous bed. So it was very interesting to see the current Shakespeare’s Globe On Tour open air production of ‘The Taming of The Shrew’ at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts last week. Here the challenges of the play were tackled head-on by neatly reversing Elizabethan conventions and using an entirely female cast. Joe Murphy’s production was well-acted, entertaining, inventive and very funny but the most fascinating aspect was the way in which the gender relationships were explored. When we saw ‘Twelfth Night’ performed by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men with an all-male cast (reviewed here in August 2009), seeing the female parts played by men strangely seemed to make more sense of the conceit of girl dressed as boy. In ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ Petruchio’s final triumph in ‘taming’ Kate was very cleverly undermined by his clear discomfort at what he had created, made all the more obvious by the fact that he was being played by a woman. The cast were universally strong but special mention must go to Kate Lamb’s Katherina, Petruchio played by Leah Whitaker and Remy Beasley's constantly smirking, Welsh-accented, Tranio.

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