Taming of the Shrew
26th May - 20th June 2015
New Wimbledon Studio
Written by: William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by: Ross McGregor
Movement Director: Will Pinchin
Musical Director: Samuel Morgan-Grahame
Designer: Zoe Koperski
Choreographer: Chrissy Kett
Artwork Design: Luke Ridge
Production Photography: Davor Tovarlaza for The Ocular Collective & Zoltan Almasi
Elizabeth Appleby as Petruchia
Jean Apps as Gremia
Cornelia Baumann as Baptista
Norma Butikofer as Pedant & Tailor
Pippa Caddick as Biondella
Lucy Caplin as Grumia
Suzy Gill as Hortensia
Gareth Kearns as Curtis & The Widower
Bridget Mastrocola as Vincentia
Alexander McMorran as Kajetano
Samuel Morgan-Grahame as Bianco
Remy Moynes as Lucentia
Christopher Neels as Christopher Sly
Gemma Salter as Trania
british theatre - 5 stars
"A ravaged, mouthy derelict with a can of beer was slumped outside the entrance to the New Wimbledon Studio when I arrived for the Press Night of this new production of The Taming of the Shrew. I thought no more of it until the same individual emerged in the theatre ahead of curtain up interacting rowdily with the stage manager, turning over a few chairs, and giving members of the audience minor grief. And then the penny dropped: the play had already started and we were in the midst not of a incident involving the police but a brilliantly improvised version of ‘The Induction’, the framing device for the play-within-a play that is this early Shakespearean comedy. As Christopher Sly, the toper to be placated and entertained, Christopher Neels gave us the first of many new and insightful glimpses into what has become more of a ‘problem play’ in recent production tradition, as opposed to one of Shakespeare’s lighter and frothy early works.
With the exception of the main leads each actor plays multiple roles and here we see the benefit of working with a regular core company who all know one another well and are at ease in flexible ensemble work. There is energy, inventiveness and fluidity about the progress of the action and a strong visual sense at work to create effective tableaus. This means that it does not matter that the budget is limited: for example, the chorus of timorous cooks and servants during the banquet scene is just so amusingly choreographed you forget that only the most minimal props are on display.
This is Shakespeare where the values and focus are in the right place, namely a forensic re-thinking of the text, with an eye for how that vision may be best communicated with pace and wit of delivery and continuously eye-catching stage movement. There are also some charming sung interludes that emerge naturally from the play, in the best tradition of musical theatre, which serve to encapsulate the mood at several points in the action.
The problem I have always had in the past with this play is the sheer relentlessness of the ‘taming’ process, which has in previous productions I have seen just come over as tedious, rather than cruel, let alone funny. For that reason I have been more drawn in recent years more to the genial, urbane and seductive charms of Cole Porter’s version rather than to Shakespeare’s original. The best compliment I can pay this fine production is that it has made me think much more kindly of the original play and laid to rest many of my anxieties about the material. Do catch it while you can.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ - Tim Hochstrasser - BRITISH THEATRE