second play in the season proper was a new production
directed by Toby Frow. Samantha Spiro, who bears a remarkable resemblance to
"Carry On"/"East Enders" actress Barbara Windsor, plays the formidable Katherina.
She is ideal as the strong, attractive, funny and finally loving so-called Shrew.
Unusually in my experience
of the play this production included the "Christopher Fry" scene at the start.
Sly starts by acting as a drunken groundling. Is he a real drunk who is about to
be ejected by the Globe stewards, we wonder? Then he climbs on the stage, urinates against a column
and is violently sick, partly over the front row of groundlings. I'm still not sure
if the groundling who ran out of the yard shouting "This is not acceptable" was
for real or was part of the show! The play was then performed for Sly's benefit
which perhaps adds an extra level of make-believe suggesting that perhaps the outrageous
'Taming' we were about to witness is not to be taken seriously. Or perhaps not
- I'm not a Shakespeare scholar, just a playgoer!
Ah yes the play! I wander yet again.
This is a bawdy comedy and director Toby Frow plays the comedy to the fullest
extent. The excellent Simon Paisley Day's Petruchio arrives for his
wedding to Katherina wearing just boots, a sword supported by a strap over his shoulder,
and a cod-piece held on with a thong. The sight of his all but naked back striding sedately
off stage brought the house down!
unusual interpretation was the portrayal of Katherina's younger sister Bianca.
Normally she is a shy, innocent character, and that is how she appears when in the company
of her father and the outside world. But alone with her sister, Sarah Macrea's Bianca
could give as good as she got and portrayed a much more knowing demeanour.
So what do you do about
the final scene when each man orders his wife to come to him? Bianca's refusal
justifies her two-faced portrayal earlier, but Katherina's wholly submissive
deference to Petruchio can be played ironically. This production played it straight,
Spiro wholeheartedly exhorting her fellow brides unquestioningly to
submit to the authority of their husbands. The Sly induction may well suggest
that this play within a play is indeed a make-believe world.
a wholly enjoyable production proving once again that Shakespeare
wrote crowd pleasing hilarious romps when he wanted to.