|The Courtyard Theatre: 06 Sept, 2008
says (and they should know)
of TAMING OF THE SHREW
: "Shakespeare explores the sexual politics of marriage."
say, of this new production: "Women exploit and highlight the weaknesses of man."
I'm sure we're all correct in defining the difficulties that exist in the play often voted Best Ever
by the readers of Misogynist Monthly
. TOTS (as I will now refer to it)
is one of my favorite of SHAKESPEARE'S
work; probably because it is so open to interpretation and, like HAMLET
Without humping on (in an annoying trouser~scratching fashion)
about my 'credentials' when it comes to Billy S
- go HERE
for my review of Hamlet
- I did do a number
of papers on this very
play along with the ZEFFIRELLI
version starring [Harry Hill] RICHARD BURTON [/Harry Hill]
with some burd
he married a couple of times (see what I did there?)
. And please, purty
please, do not
mention 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
or I will eff
you up, blood!
Old people can be sexy too!
Like my previous trip to the RSC (the night before)
I was smacked in the gob by how visceral the production is; how immediate the performances are; and how sah~weet
the seats I scored were! Although I am quite familiar with the play I must have had a senior moment as I forgot about the framing device which exists in TOTS
. Here the scenes with Sly
are set in 'modern' times and we are treated to quite
a scene in a strip~club. Erotic?
Almost, but I try not to tighten my trousers in such an august
setting. But, by flippity
, MICHELLE "Scary Face" GOMEZ
can certainly 'move'. And I mean that in a good
She commands a very physical performance on stage and her Scottish
accent is used to startling effect. Those of us familiar with the harsher
tones of my country's women (or 'wummin')
will get an idea of what I'm referring to there. It's not all KIRSTY "Corr, Give Me The Head~lines Baby!" YOUNG
up here (sadly)
. Or is
it? I dunno. I don't frequent the kind of places where the beautiful people go. Or maybe I do and I just don't realise it. Or, maybe I... oh, hold on. Where
Read the part where it defines, "trouser tighteningly" Oh yeah. Gomez
handles her first foray with the RSC
with more brutishness and sultry~ness
than Liz Taylor
did in the aforementioned 1967 film
. There's a real 'journey' going on here and by the end she becomes almost robotic in her delivery after her ordeal with PETRUCHIO
. Quite heart~breaking, actually,
to see the life sucked out of one so
vibrant. Still, that's
life! As a side~note, it's almost ironic that an actress like Gomez
, known for her comedic roles, ellicits fewer laughs (I'm sure that Billy S fans probably have a better name for it, like 'mirth' or some such other)
than many of the cast.
Simon & Garfunkel get shirty over the new backing singer... KEIR CHARLES, who plays Tranio, does
a sterling job - finding laughs out of the simplest of lines but usually with gestures that would not look out of place in a CARRY~ON
film. And that is not
a criticism. The style of a number of the actors involved here are in that vein and one could almost look on this production as a meta~play
as it says much about past productions of Shakespeare
in general. The overly
dramatic gestures and gregarious
deliveries which once were the 'norm' are laughable. And we laugh alongside the cast, as well as 'at'. If you remember the BLACKADDER THE THIRD
episode where the old actors perform for the Prince then you're getting the idea.
Its got it all: Beards! Hats!! Women!!!
Anyway, back to Mr Charles
, who steals the show in almost every scene he is in. Once Tranio
starts to impersonate his master, Lucentio
, we are treated to an absurd (in a good way) Russell Brand~esque
character as the servant doesn't have the skill to pull off the deception (to the audience anyway - it is successful within the play)
. Again, we have another trait of Billy S
held up to the spotlight - that of the 'character playing another character and nobody notices'. If Tranio's
ridiculous performance (and it is his, during this play within in a play)
wasn't enough to set the Shakespeare
purists on edge we are then presented with what can only be called the director's trump card. Race.
One of these people is a robot.
Those familiar with TOTS
will know there is another deception in the play. Lucentio's
father is impersonated but here the man used is of Jamaican
heritage, leading to a moment where the actors had to wait a considerable amount of time before continuing as the audience dried their collective seats. And, again, like all good Shakespeare
, the deception works on those within the play. But the high~larity
did not stop there. Tranio
then had to pull off playing Lucentio
pretending to be the man's son - imitating his broad (in all senses)
patois. A stroke of unutterable genius by the production team. Of course, when Lucentio's
real father turned up, we witnessed an almost Seventies sitcom~style like romp.
Steven Moffat's vision of DOCTOR WHO 2010 is unveiled...
There were more 'race' issues present (but not addressed)
in the form of Bianca
, played by the trouser~tighteningly dazzling AMARA KARAN (who I spent the whole play trying to figure where the flip I'd seen her before)
. And was that LEONARD "Dr Legg" FENTON
in the cast too? Yes!
All in all, a superb production. Better than HAMLET
? Certainly more
entertaining and just as thoughtful. And no
review of Billy S
would be complete without my 'star spotter' guide - in the audience was ASHLEY JENSEN
. Later on in the pub, Gomez
trundled in with her husband JACK "Where Is he Now?" DAVENPORT
. That was a weird moment. When he spoke it was like being in
an advert. Anyway, I cannot recommend TOTS highly
enough. It's nearly done at Stratford but is transferring to Newcastle (!) next and then London. I urge you to catch it.
She wonders, "Will the people of Newcastle get it?"
'Til the next time,
Labels: Amara Karan, Jack Davenport, Keir Charles, Michelle Gomez, RSC, Shakespeare, Stratford, Taming Of The Shrew, Taming Of The Shrew Review, William Shakespeare