THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
by William Shakespeare.
Marlowe Theatre The Friars CT1 2AS.
25, 28 June 7.30pm.
29 June 2pm.
TICKETS: 01227 787787.
then Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue Swiss Cottage NW3 3EU In rep 3-20 July 2013.
7.30pm 3, 6, 9, 13, 17-19 July.
2pm 4, 10, 20 July.
TICKETS: 020 7722 9301.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary: 31 May at Theate Royal Nottingham.
Brilliant and original. A Winner.
This is all-male Shakespeare company Propeller with the second play in their current touring package. Using the same actors and the same country house set as they did in Twelfth Night and again under Edward Hall’s direction, they come up with something equally brilliant and original.
At the same time as hardly missing an opportunity for a laugh, this Taming of the Shrew manages, especially in the second half, to be quite dark. And in contrast to the protracted periods of raucous semi-chaos there are snatches of tense and total silence.
OTT acting from the whole cast is super. They go in for lots of rapport with the audience; and there’s much shameless and effective declamation. At one point Vince Leigh’s Petruchio jokily flaunts himself Chippendale-like to a lady in the front row. And one of the most dramatic, and unpredictable, dark moments comes later when he challenges anyone in the audience – no one takes him up on it – to come up with a better way than domestic abuse to break his wife in. Well might he ask: the feeding scene where Petruchio starves his new bride and bullies the half-army of lackeys is brutal.
Leigh, who can command the stage apparently effortlessly, also gets to play Christopher Sly in the Induction framing the play. Although this can usually be omitted – it could and should have been here – in this production it is done well.
There’s a lot to delight: Ben Allen‘s (Biondello) applause-winning description of Petruchio on his way to the wedding; Bianca’s (Arthur Wilson) ridiculously long scream; Katherina’s (Dan Wheeler) impressively well-paced speech near the end; music, ranging from Italian songs to jazz/rock – one could go on. In the best sense, every actor milks his part: A Tailor (Christopher Heywood) isn’t just a tailor: he’s a camp tailor, with kilt and Scottish accent.
Costumes are outrageous: it being Italy, Baptista is a small-town Mafioso in a gangster suit and wearing an eye patch; Katherine is an Annie Lennox look-alike punk; Petruchio is in cowpoke gear.
This is a winner.
Christopher Sly/Petruchio: Vince Leigh.
Lucentio: Finn Hanlon.
Tranio: Liam O’Brien.
Baptista: Chris Myles.
Katherine: Dan Wheeler.
Bianca: Arthur Wilson.
Gremio: John Dougall.
Hortensio: Gary Shelford.
Biondello: Ben Allen.
Grumio/A Pedant: Benjamin O’Mahony.
Curtis: Joseph Chance.
A Tailor/A Widow: Christopher Heyward.
Vincentio: Darrell Brockis.
Servant: Lewis Hart.
Director: Edward Hall.
Designer: Michael Pavelka.
Lighting: Ben Ormerod.
Sound: David Gregory.