Also described as one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays, The Taming of the Shrew has been an inspiration for several movie and drama plots across the world. At the Bard on the Beach, the script was improvised to address the misogyny that this Shakespeare’s piece possess. Director Lois Anderson, who has staged the production in 1870’s America, challenges the script to align with the values and sensibilities of today. Last year, Anderson showcased her creative streak in a similar fashion with Lysistrata with a contemporary spin on women rebelling in 411 BC.
The play opens with Kate (Jennifer Lines) being mocked and ridiculed by her town yelling “shrew” until she comes out with her gun bringing the place down. Kate, a strong headed woman living with her younger sister and widowed mother in the town of Padua, is annoyed by the frivolities and expectations of society. While her younger sister Bianca (Kate Besworth) is lining up suitors for herself, Kate’s mother has announced that Bianca will only be allowed to marry once Kate has. As Bianca’s suitors are devising schemes to find Kate a suitor, Petruchio (Andrew McNee) walks in to Padua looking for a rich wife.
A series of events present some of the best scenes between the two characters, Kate and Petruchio, as they fight, get married and fall in love. The cast does an excellent job in complimenting Kate and Petruchio’s high energy comic scenes.
The expressions of the protagonist as she voyages from an angry, frustrated woman stuck in a society that infuriates her, to a woman in love is done impressively by Jennifer. Unlike the original script, Anderson has Kate share some of Petruchio’s lines to balance out the power shift. The director also gives the character an opportunity to connect with the audience by allotting her solo stage time.
The Taming of the Shrew is playing on the BMO Mainstage at Bard on the Beach until September 21. Tickets at https://bardonthebeach.org/2019/the-taming-of-the-shrew/#!/view/buy-tickets
Photo: Jennifer Lines & Andrew McNee, clicked by Tim Matheson