THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
by William Shakespeare.
Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Anthony Hopkins Theatre) Raikes Lane CH7 1YA To 4 June 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3565./
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 May.
Ideas present; humour largely absent.
If bright lights, waving arms and onstage amusement created laughter in the auditorium, Terry Hands’ Mold revival of The Taming of the Shrew would be hilarious.
What actually occurs is an onstage anthology of ways to kill humour. Stone dead. As a doornail. Most of the time.
The suitors for Baptista Minola’s younger daughter, Bianca, usually seem to clutter the action, and rarely interest directors as much as Katherina and Petruccio. Bianca does, however, and her stock has gone down in the feminist age, leaving her often a smilingly manipulative blonde. More interestingly, Amy Morgan makes clear she soon chooses Lucentio for her husband, paying him sympathetic attention during the lesson scene.
Her sister suggests knowing her man is in the female Minola genes. Hedydd Dylan’s Katherina is shrewish as an alternative to being sullen – which speaks something for her – because as the daughter who doesn’t conform to girlish sweetness and nice dresses, she’s feared and avoided by the men around her. Her strong reaction fuels further abreactions among the men. So she’ll never get what she doesn’t want anyway.
She soon recognises the man she does want in Petruccio, and smiles of recognition aren’t long in coming. He must know he’s taken on someone with a will; when he’s tricking her out of food, back at his place, she goes on a night-time prowl in search of sustenance.
If she grew desperate Dylan’s bright-eyed Katherina might try eating her husband alive. She seems up to it, while Steven Meo is far from the average wife-tamer as Petruccio, taking on the challenge as he becomes increasingly drunk (in a mightily stagey way).
How it ends was difficult to tell; with Petruccio seated one side at the front of a stage brought close to the audience, his face was invisible and response to his wife placing her hand under his foot hard to gauge.
The best moments are the quietest – Katherina’s nocturnal food-search, or Petruccio silently impressed when he first sees, as opposed to hearing about, Kate. For the rest, supposed comic brio becomes sound and fury signifying not too much.
Christopher Sly/Merchant: Brendan Charleson.
Hostess/Widow: Sara Harris-Davies.
Lord/Vincentio/Curtis: Joshua Richards.
Baptista Minola: Robert Blythe.
Katherina: Hedydd Dyfan.
Bianca: Amy Morgan.
Petruccio: Steven Meo.
Grumio: Simon Holland Roberts.
Hortensio: Michael Geary.
Lucentio: Daniel Llewelyn-Williams.
Tranio: Sion Pritchard.
Biondello: James Haggie.
Gremio: John Cording.
Tailor: Daniel Lloyd.
Director/Lighting: Terry Hands.
Designer: Mark Bailey.
Sound: Matthew Williams.
Composer: Colin Towns.
Assistant director: Lora Davies.