The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted by putting
archive recordings of past productions online, others by streaming new
shows. Until things return to normal we review the experience of
watching live theatre
The Taming Of The Shrew
Stratford Festival and YouTube Summer 2020
Popular Shakespeare at
its best, this 2015 production from Stratford Ontario's Festival
Theatre invites that audience in without ever dumbing-down, and
respects the text while celebrating even more the vitality of the
And it's a lot of fun.
Under the guidance of
director Chris Abraham the actors speak with admirable clarity,
employ natural modern speech rhythms (instead of those of verse
recitation) whenever possible, and exploit the opportunities this
play offers for physical humour, comic reactions and the occasional
bit of flirting with the audience.
The result is sparkling,
entertaining and true to the happy spirit of the play.
As the central
couple Deborah Hay and Ben Carlson are neither of them juveniles, a
fact the production acknowledges by having other actors react
comically whenever the text calls Petruchio young. But, as has
happened in some productions of Much Ado About Nothing, ageing the
central couple attractively leavens the comedy with a 'last chance at
Deborah Hay convinces us
of a deep unhappiness
Katherine brings to the play and her brave willingness to risk the
chance that this strange lover offers some way out of it. And Ben
Carlson allows Petruchio's bluster to lapse just occasionally enough
for us to sense there's someone more sensitive hiding behind it.
neither the director nor the two actors have solved the perhaps
impenetrable problem of making the 'taming' plot acceptable to modern
sensibilities, they do make both characters sympathetic and
attractive so that we celebrate their happy ending.
sense you will have of everyone else in the cast is how much they are
all doing, through immersion in their characters and inventive bits
of comic shtick, to serve the play and keep the energy level
unwaveringly high, Tom Rooney's whirling dervish of a Tranio standing
Recorded on the Festival Theatre's long and narrow thrust stage, the polished multi-camera video version directed by Barry Avrich captures the energy and inventiveness of a live performance.
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