ComedyLondonReviewShakespeareShakespeare 400

The Taming of the Shrew – Etcetera Theatre, London

Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Paula Benison
Reviewer: Tom Finch

The classic story of Petruchio’s challenge to tame and marry the brash Katharina, presented here by the all female troupe Get Over it Productions, is a stripped back, hour-long version set entirely at a 1989 rave.

Kudos must go to the cast who all dance non-stop in the sweltering heat under the lights at the Etcetera Theatre in Paula Benson’s uneven production.

On paper Shrewseems like the perfect play to be performed by an all-female cast. With its strong themes of misogyny and domestic violence running throughout there could be a fascinating chance to explore the text in a fresh and invigorating way. Instead this production plays most of the piece for laughs, preferring to draw on tired stereotypes rather than truly understanding the motives of the complex characters.

That said, there are some parts that do work well. The director, Benson, also takes on the role of Baptista whom she portrays as a drug-addled Cockney geezer- she manages to be both menacing and likeable at the same time.

Valenzia Spearpoint is as feisty a Kate as one would expect and she makes a real effort to take the role seriously and show the audience her struggle against the sadistic Petruchio, played here in a somewhat one-note performance by Sass Clyde.

Drugs play a big part in this show, at one point a bag of white powder is used as currency. At various points, we see the characters off their faces and while there is some humour to be had in this it means that character development takes a back seat. How much should we really pay attention to what someone is saying if their pupils are the size of side plates?

There are some laughs to be had in this production but if the director had paid as much attention to the characters as she has to the dancing, Kate’s final submissive speech may have packed more of a punch.

Runs until 27 August 2016 | Image:Emma Steele

 

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Fun but uneven

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