THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Globe Tour to 13 September 2013 (UK/Ireland dates)
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 July at Old Schools Quadrangle Bodleian Library Oxford.
Showing a defiantly untamed spirit.
An all-female Shrew might seem a sweet act of revenge, even with a male director. It certainly doesn’t de-sexualise the play: the unspecific air-of-20th-century costumes all worn by women emphasise the formality and total covering of male characters, and the women’s partially-uncovered limbs.
This indicates where power is meant to lie, until individual character comes into play. If the blazered male brigade have less influence than they imagine when she threatens their assumption of control, Kate Lamb’s Katherina retains the authority of self-possession when dressed for her wedding; Her face and determined eyes, her inner intensity belie any doll-like, flouncy wedding-dress display, or the mud-spattered humiliation she’s later meant to feel.
And Leah Walker’s Petruchio is never more masculine, than when, changed from his deliberately eccentric wedding apparel to a smart suit, hair tied back, he’s tyrannising Kate on his own territory. Lamb’s already been the object of others’ mockery as the Induction’s Tyneside Christopher Sly, where Kathryn Hunt leads the trickery, giving an edge retained by her Baptista, Kate’s hapless father.
Despite many attempts to align the Shrew with modern sexual politics, it remains resistant. Here, the normal solution is achieved by the interval. Kate’s recognised something to respect in Petruchio. But, despite downplaying of much around to provide brevity and focus, he doesn’t notice and continues with behaviour which would have him guilty in any court of human rights.
Lamb shows Kate is aware of this. The final speech is no submission, no agreement even. She keeps looking warily at him to ensure she’s getting it right, while resentment stays in her voice and fury lies within her eyes. For once the Globe’s Elizabethan theatre manner of ending each production with an upbeat dance fits ill.
This Shrew is definitely too shrewd to be tamed, outsmarting the husband she seems to be obeying. Rarely has a Petruchio ended so embarrassed. But Murphy provides an accompanying playfulness in song and characterful cameos – none more than Joy Richardson’s pictures of stiff age and surprised visitor – coming close to solving the play’s central problem by simply refusing to resolve it.
Tranio: Remy Beasley.
Lucentio: Becci Gemmell.
Baptista Minola/Grumio: Kathryn Hunt.
Katherina: Kate Lamb.
Bianca/Biondello/Curtis: Olivia Morgan.
Gremio/Vincentio/Widow: Joy Richardson.
Hortensio/Pedant: Nicola Sangster.
Petruchio: Leah Walker.
Director: Joe Murphy.
Designer: Hannah Clark.
Composer: Corin Buckeridge.
Choreographer: Georgina Lamb.
Fight director: Kevin McCurdy.
Text associate: Giles Block.
Movement associate: Glynn MacDonald.
Voice/Dialect: Martin McKellan.
Assistant director: JoshRoche.
Associate text: Ng Choon Ping, Jamie Rocha Allan.
16-21 July 7.45pm (sold out 16 July) Mat Sat 3.30pm; Sun 2.30pm Old Schools Quadrangle Bodleian
Library Oxford 01865 305305 www.oxfordplayhouse.com
30 July-1 Aug 7pm Bungay Castle 020 7401 9919 www.shakespearesglobe.com
3-4 Aug 6pm < b>Pavilion Gardens Buxton 0845 127 2190 www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk
9-13; 15-18 Aug 7.30pm Mat 18 Aug 2pm The Castle Yard Kilkenny 056 775 2175 www.kilkennyarts.ie
21-24 Aug 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2pm The Master’s Garden Corpus Christi College Cambridge 01223 503333 www.canbridgeartstheatre.com
26 Aug 6.30pm Top Lawn St Donat’s Castle 01446 799100 www.stdonats.com
29 Aug-1 Sept 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 2pm Georgian Theatre Royal Richmond 020 7401 9919 www.shakespearesglobe.com
4-6 Sept 7.30pm Mat Thu 2pm Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds 01284 769505 www.theatreroyal.org
9-13 Sept 8pm Mat Wed, Fri 2pm Minack Theatre Porthcurno 01736 810810/810471 www.minack.com