As one of Shakespeare’s most performed and adapted plays, The Taming Of The Shrew has become everything from a teen movie to a Broadway musical, but the Shakespeare’s Globe production strips the Bard’s controversial comedy back to its roots in a way that is undeniably traditional yet avoids seeming too dated.
Following a quite literally show-stopping induction, which sees the stewards assaulted and bodily fluids discharged, we are introduced to Baptista’s familial dilemma. If the scolding Katherina must be married to allow her demure sister Bianca to tie the knot, the sound of wedding bells for either party is looking as unlikely as the sound of silence from low-flying aircrafts during a performance at the open-air theatre.
Here to drown out all murmurs of the evening’s air traffic is Samantha Spiro’s positively terrifying Katherina, whose vicious sound effects are as violent as her cat-fighting. Close behind her in the decibel dual is the booming presence of Simon Paisley Day as the brash Petruchio who is determined to tame her unruly nature.
There are elements of Basil Fawlty about Paisley Day’s Petruchio, whose over the top compliments towards Katherina are delivered in as eccentric and insincere manner as the infamous hotel owner. At times, even the action leans towards that of the farcical Towers, as food is force fed, fought over and flung to the far reaches of the audience.
Throughout the evening, Mike Britton’s set takes quite a beating from the not so happy couple, with scenery sent flying and heads bashed against surfaces. But while there may be a few dents in the woodwork, there is no such flaw in the play’s cast. Pearce Quigley’s bin-dropping Grumio, Sarah MacRae’s scheming and pathetic Bianca, and Jamie Beamish’s loveable Tranio are but a few of the well-rounded performances to be found on the Globe’s stage.
No one can condone the blatant patriarchal and misogynistic views that are present in the Bard’s so often disliked work, but you can’t help but laugh at the comedy scraps, accidental innuendos and scenes of nudity, which are scattered throughout Toby Frow’s production.