It is fair to say The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare’s hardest plays to stage these days, so it was refreshing to see Troika Theatre’s new production at Oxford Castle giving it real gusto.

The castle is, of course, a glorious backdrop to any performance – and in many ways is extremely suitable for Shrew, the oppressive castle representing elements of the society the characters inhabit.

The production itself uses little set, however a great deal of furniture and props. Sadly the frequent scene changes do drag the pace somewhat (whilst for the most part being in the background and actually having no bearing on the play at all).

It did take a while for the cast to warm up, presumably first night nerves got to some quarters for the first half hour. However, energy starts to spark by the time Petruchio (Adam Potterton) strides onto stage – from there on in momentum builds neatly. Opposite him, Katharina (Monica Nash) strikes a sarcastic shrew whilst full of wit.

Other performances to note come from Ashley Harvey’s Tranio and Colin Burnie’s wonderful turn as Vincentio (few men have the ability to steal a show by simply walking across stage).

Troika have created a fine, solid production, one which I am sure will develop into a superb Shakespeare by the end of their two week run.

- Daniel Whitley

Performances run to Saturday 30 June -