A return to Beaufort Players for this author to observe their latest production of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
This play has always been controversial. Since it appeared in the 16th Century the gender politics context of the story has made it one of 'Bill’s' less-popular plays. Are women merely possessions who must be brought under male control? Well, that’s a good question for anyone doing this vexing play.
The biggest change for this production was Director Jane Quill’s decision to completely swap genders – the women play all the male roles and men play all the female roles. At the start I was very uncertain this would work. She stuck with the original Shakespearean text, and it was slightly odd seeing the ladies dressed and acting as men. But overall it does work.
This is quite a large cast and most of them do a good job in their roles. The standout for me was Sassy Clyde as the controlling Petruchio. She (he?) gets right into Shakespeare’s script and makes it look easy; relaxed and conversational. In contrast, a few cast are less comfortable and lines are delivered as if reciting straight from a book – very little change in tone or delivery.
The gender swap means Thom Cobb and Alan Robinson take the roles of sisters Kate and Bianca. They both do a good job, though sometimes it comes across as a bit “pantomime”. Bianca’s simpering and eyelash fluttering is a little over the top. However, kudos to the male cast for coping in skirts and heels. The female cast seem to settle better in their male roles.
There was a couple of missed lines which was unfortunate. Try not to look panicked and turn to the prompt – keep it smooth and less obvious.
The set is simple and very effective, and the costumes more or less all appropriate, with the exception of a couple of pieces.
This is a well executed piece of experimental theatre. Congratulations to all the cast and crew.