Shakespearean plays seem to be like buses - you don't see one for ages then three come along at once! Derby Theatre staged The Taming of the Shrew recently and this week Nottingham sees a double dose with Romeo and Juliet at the Playhouse and the RSC performing The Taming of the Shrew at the Theatre Royal. As I can't afford to watch as many as I would like, when I saw Nottingham Royal looking for a Twitter reviewer, I jumped at the chance.
The plot - Baptista has two daughters he wishes to find husbands for, but won't allow the younger, Bianca, to marry one of her many admirers before he can find a husband for the elder, Kate, the 'shrew'. Fortunately Petruchio, a stranger totown, turns up and is prepared to take her on for her dowry - and straighten out her attitude later.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this production. I'd read reviews for it that seemed to suggest it was going to be gritty and possibly violent, so was totally unprepared for how much fun it was!
Yes, Shakespeare can be fun!
After a slightly slow start, the comedy picked up pace and had the audience in fits of laughter - the first time I've heard that at a performance. I can imagine academics tittering respectfully over Shakespearean wit but not laughing out loud in this manner. The RSC's performance is an energetic, fast- paced romp, full of sexual innuendo, that puts paid to the idea of Shakespeare being dull and fuddy-duddy.
Kate is a hard-drinking, hard smoking, ready for a fight woman. Petruchio, muscled and fit, the only attractive-looking guy on stage. They were made for each other. Kate's end speech, about women obeying their husbands, is a bit hard to stomach these days but having Petruchio abase himself to kiss her feet after it balanced things out somewhat, leaving me with the message that love and respect are two-way things.
My only regret is not taking my teenager along. I'd queried whether or not it would be suitable for a 14 yr old - and with innuendo and semi-nudity perhaps it's as well to err on the side of caution but I would have been happy for her to have seen it.
An excellent evening's entertainment that I'd urge everyone to see - especially if your only impression of Shakespearean comedy is of dull, dragging school-work.