There’s nothing like having a pint with your Shakespeare – and the Victory Café was a great venue for the Shakespeare BASH’d production of The Taming of the Shrew. I caught the closing night of their Fringe run last night – and it was some big loud raucous fun.
Director Eric Double also gives us a turn as Christopher Sly, the drunken pub patron who is tricked into thinking he’s a nobleman. The play that we see unfold is put on for his entertainment, making the main story – the one we associate with this play – a play within a play. And I always seem to forget that part every time I see it.
Simply but effectively staged and costumed – the pub setting is a good one for Shrew, giving the cast a chance to travel along and play around the bar, especially for the pre-show Induction scene where the plot to trick Sly is hatched. Most importantly, the production focuses on character. An energetic and mostly young cast, Shrew features the talents of Andy Cockburn (Lucentio), Sophia Fabiilli (Bianca), Jesse Griffiths (Tranio), Ellen Hurley (Biondella), Alex Johnson (Tailor, Widow), David Mackett (Baptista, Curtis), Milan Malisic (Gremio, Pedant), Julia Nish-Lapidus (Katherina), Kelly Penner (Hortensio), David Ross (Grumio, Vincentio) and James Wallis (Petruchio). A tricky play to perform today, given our modern-day Western world rights for women, this production stayed rooted in the time it was written, and took care to show Kate’s transformation in the light of love and marital compromise.
Stand-outs for me were Wallis’s Petruchio, who gave a nice combination of Jack Black irreverence and Captain Jack Sparrow devil-may-care in this otherwise rowdy, quick-tempered and boisterous character. Nish-Lapidus’s Katherine did a lovely transition from Kate the shrew to Kate the pleasant – hitting all the notes of disbelief, confusion and falling for Petruchio in between. Ellen Hurley was adorably cheeky as Lucentio’s young servant Biondella, and Kelly Penner’s Hortensio was deliciously arrogant and entitled. The whole cast does a nice job of handling the lovely saucy dialogue featured in various battle of the sexes scenes – mostly memorably the final gathering scene. All in all, a rowdy rollicking good time was had by all.
For more info on Shakespeare BASH’d, please visit their website: http://www.shakespearebashd.com/
If you missed The Taming of the Shrew during its Victory Café run at the Fringe, fear not – they are returning for a remount at the Best of the Fringe at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
For the full Best of Fringe line-up, scheduling and reservations, click here: http://www.tocentre.com/studio/bestoffringe2012