THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
by William Shakespeare.
Queen’s Theatre Billet Lane RM11 1QT To 30 April 2011.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat 16, 29 April 2.30pm.
Audio-described/BSL Signed 16 April 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 01708 443333.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 11 April.
East London takes Shakespeare way out West.
As if its sexual politics hasn’t caused enough grief, along comes gun-totin’ director Bob Carlton to make a case for Taming of the Shrew as the first spaghetti western. Clearly, when young Carlton wasn’t hanging around record-players acquiring the encyclopaedic rock-‘n’-roll catalogue that’d inform his sci-fi and gangster Shakespeare adaptations, he was sneaking into local flea-pits, from which he now retrieves Pearl & Dean’s iconic advertising columns, a gaudy technicolour Intermission slide, and just about ev’ry trick of the John Ford trade.
Cut to the Chase.., Carlton’s Hornchurch company, enthusiastically create the musical soundtrack – no harmonies closer, no grass bluer, strumming just about everything that can be strummed, from double-bass through banjo and guitar to horse-hoof coconut shells (if they are strummed).
Way down in Padua, Texas – suspiciously close to Monument Valley (Ford’s regular cinematic haunt) – Baptista Minola keeps the saloon, where ‘The Widow entertains twice-nightly, while younger daughter Bianca, a blonde beauty with a silver tongue she sticks rudely at her sister when daddy’s not looking, is pursued by the local Sheriff and Undertaker, whose shared premises seem like an early one-stop shop.
Or stop-one-shot-shop. There’s plenty of shooting, especially by ornery older sister Katerina. Claire Storey’s spirited girl, confined in Main Street between sheriff and saloon, soon partners-up with a Petruchio who Elliot Harper shows more driven by dutch courage than inner strength.
She has his measure by the time they reach his house – or rather his tepee in the desert, shared with his own personal Tonto in Grumio. Each recognises the other recognises what’s beneath the surface. She joins in the game – it seems less like cruelty here – at last outplaying him by going further than he wants in her submission speech, to the point he has to sweep her off her knees. It’s the final mutual acknowledgment of equality.
Plenty of local colour around, including a blithe Mexican Biondello from Greg Last, in a production where the wit may make more for amusement than hilarity, but where we are surely safe watching something with a Classification Certificate signed by no less than censorship supremo Christopher Sly.
Biondello: Greg Last.
Lucentio: Mark Stanford.
Tranio: Tom Jude.
Hortensio/Vincentio: Matthew Quinn.
Gremio: Jared Ashe.
Kate: Claire Storey.
Baptista: Simon Jessop.
Bianca: Sarah Scowen.
Petruchio: Elliot Harper.
Grumio/The Widow: Natasha Moore.
Director: Bob Carlton.
Dsigner: Norman Coates.
Lighting: Andy Lewis.
Musical Director: Carol Sloman.
Choreographer: Hannah Welch.