Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Taming of the Shrew

Update (06-21-06): Here's a link to my review of "Shrew."

I'm not sure what the attraction of "Taming of the Shrew" for directors is, exactly. It can certainly be entertaining but the problems of making it relevant or resonant in a modern context seem daunting to me. Maybe it's that challenge that keeps it interesting. But if it's just challenge you want, personally I'd give "Merchant of Venice" a shot (all the kids love anti-semitism!) or even "Titus Andronicus" (a Father's Day favorite!).

Anyway, I've seen a couple of great "Shrew"s over the years. Rick St. Peter's production at the Barksdale back in 2001 was amazing, nicely modernized with two leads that were particularly saucy. Chamberlayne Actors Theatre had a pretty good production the year before that, too. Hmm. So maybe people keep doing "Shrew" because productions of it just have a way of ending up good?

Whatever the case, I've never seen a "Shrew" done by the real Shakespeare experts at Encore! / RSF and I love visiting Agecroft and getting lost in that 16th century atmosphere. Their "Romeo and Juliet" kicked butt last summer; here's hoping they have a crew that has a clue and can do a new "Shrew" that's true blue (sorry about that; it's late and I'm punchy...)

Update (06-19-06): It's really fun to see Shakespeare done well. You'll read all about my generally positive take on "Shrew" once the review posts (I'm never 100% sure when that is going to be...) but here's a couple of tidbits that aren't in the review:

I didn't get a chance to rave about Tony Foley who was great as Tranio. I particularly liked the first scene where he's trying to get it through his love-struck master's head that there are significant obstacles to his wooing. I thought Matt Polson and Amber Wiley made a nice couple. Maybe I'm a little hungover from the "American Idol" madness this spring, but I think Wiley is a dead ringer for Katherine McPhee.

I did get a chance to rave about Andrew Hamm's musical embellishments in my review but I'll do some more here. I don't know where the song "K-k-k-Katie" comes from but it made for a splendid opening to the show and Hamm's playing and singing (along with Maggie Roop) was wonderful throughout. Good going, RSF!

1 comment:

Cynde said...

Here's my chance to do a little of my job...:-) (since I am Director of Education)
There's some thing about warring couples that really do love each other, that people seem to find fascinating. There have been permutations on that galore- Lucy and Desi,The Honeymooners,etc. The TV show, Moonlighting, played on that theme- then had it's own version of Shrew.
Of course, most of these don't have the woman "Tamed." However, three is much in the script of Shrew to indicate that this is not about "breaking" the woman (though God knows there have been enough productions that take it in that direction) but rather a mutual "softening" of two people with rather rough edges.
To me it's more that Kate finally finds someone worthy of her, and then together with Petruchio chooses to play a trick on conventional society in that she is "tamed."
Some people will disagree with me. But that's what make Shakespeare fascinating- you can take these scripts in many directions.