The Taming of the Shrew

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Edward Hall
A Watermill Theatre and Propeller Production
Liverpool Playhouse (21st - 25th November 2006)

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a highly imaginative and captivating adaptation by Propeller, featuring an all male cast, of one of William Shakespeare’s earliest plays.

To call it offbeat and surreal would be an understatement. It was awe inspiring throughout its two and a half hour length, with the audience giving a superb ensemble of actors and musicians a thunderous ovation at the end of the play.

Simon Scardifield, dressed in woman’s clothing - playing the part of Katherine - was particularly notable, as the vilified wife of Petruchio (Dugald Bruce Lockhart), who was also charismatic on stage.

Katherine suffered starvation, sleep deprivation and violence by her arrogant, cruel and evil husband (there was a strong suggestion that she had been raped by him).

But despite the torment she experiences Katherine submits to his wicked ways and becomes compliant to his wishes and demands. This aspect of the play, directed by Edward Hall, has enraged some notable feminists. The power of Shakespeare still reverberates five hundred years after he wrote this piece.

Despite the heavy subject matters integral to the production, many moments of mirth and almost farce-like aspects also take place, with characters unexpectedly bounding on and off the front of the stage and from the wings; actors appear in traditional and then contemporary attire; musicians pop up playing guitars, the harmonica, etc.

The use of a multitude of mirrors is also intriguing, perhaps there to reflect the overriding dream-like qualities inherent in the play.

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