Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Toby Frow
Reviewer: Antoinette Stott
The Taming of the Shrew as directed by Toby Frow is good rollicking fun, its well put together and enormously silly, as it exposes people’s need to see each other as they want to see them and not as they really are. I think we will always have a love hate relationship with the play, its sexism in drawing humour from the breaking of Katharina’s spirit and need to express herself honestly will always grate, but if one can put that to the side as see it as a relic of the times the play was written in, then this production is really very good.
This is a very physically active and inventive performance; all the actors throw themselves at each other and the set, ducking and diving, slapping and kicking. Sarah MacRae and Samantha Spiro as Bianca and Katherina respectively, are great, Spiro especially finding a way through all the insanity to be an outraged and aggressive shrew and draw our empathy at the way she is treated by all. Simon Paisley Day as Petruchio is eminently watchable, the ensemble fantastic, but as always it is the servants that steal the show, Jamie Beamish as Tranio is a vision of ridiculousness and Pearce Quigley as Grumio steals the scene every time he skips across the stage or utters a word in his woebegone voice.
The play is three hours long including an interval, which is quite a long time to stand or to sit, but this play is fast and merrily paced, though time is always taken to revel in moments and set pieces, the audience is swept away on a tide of buffoonery and good story telling.
The joy of the Globe’s plays for me is the inclusive feel of the entertainment, harking back to what must have been a very interactive relationship between audience and performers, the Globe and indeed director Toby Frow brings to life a festive atmosphere, calling us to our seats with musicians playing on stage, the actors moving through those standing in the pit and various audience members are victim to water and food being tossed out from the stage, indeed the actors play with an awareness of the audience acknowledging us as they wink and joke and show off their talents and cunning. It is an inclusive and collaborative form of theatre, in which we feel in on the jokes and the entertainment being had, like sitting at a friend’s dinner table as he spins a hilarious story.