This is a version of Shakespeare which has the feel of a 1980's music video montage. Highlights include a particularly interesting Star Trek medley, a cross-dressing Tranio, and an aviator-wearing Petruchio who looks like he’s just stepped out of Top Gun.
Principle Theatre Company sets their production of The Taming of the Shrew in the 1980's, breaking out all the relevant jokes and songs they can muster. They create a thoroughly playful and enjoyable evening, but where this production gets the most laughs it sometimes misses the point.
The Taming of the Shrew has possibly stirred up more intense debates by feminists than any other Shakespeare play. Principle show us a power-dressing Kate, but they avoid addressing the ambiguity and complexity of Kate’s supposed taming in favour of breaking into song. This is the true of the entire production; the laughs and slapstick comedy come at the expense of the real gravity of some of the scenes. Sarah Kempton’s Kate sometimes falls into caricature, she bellows her lines rather than exploring a more complex dynamic behind Kate’s abrasive exterior.
Paul Gladwin chooses Coram's Fields as the setting for his production, but the action stays fixed in the middle and the rest of the park is ignored. The energy of the performers definitely extends way beyond the small stage they have been given.
The brilliant cast fully embrace the '80s mood and party spirit. Nathan Cable’s is excellent as Petruchio, exuding charisma and arrogance he succeeds in taming the audience as well as his wife. Benedict Hopper as the cross-dressing Tranio is hilarious and his energy and enthusiasm are infectious. Also, Maddie Rice, dressed like Madonna and pracing about twirling her hair captures the essence of a spoilt Bianca.
Any audiences looking for something beyond the surface of 1980's glitz and glamour will be disappointed. For those who love the ‘80s and are willing to indulge in a bit of nostalgia, it could be a great night out. This is a cast that just wanna have fun!
- Sarah Blissett