Review: The Taming of the Shrew

Alex Sorgo 27 February 2018

Cn: this play contains scenes of psychological abuse which some may find upsetting

"I see a woman may be made a fool/ If she had not a spirit to resist” (Act III Scene 2)

For two nights only, the annual Lent Term BME production have endeavoured to put on what can be argued as being one of Shakespeare's most problematic 'comedies’: The Taming Of The Shrew. When Petruchio (played by Danny Baalbaki) takes a bet that he can marry and tame the notorious “shrew”, Kate (Priya Edwards), he finds that he may have bitten off more than he can chew, as sparks fly when the couple meet with their ensuing struggle for supremacy.

The first encounter between Petruchio and Kate takes the form of a physical performance act, which heightens this tension. Overall, the performances of Edwards and Balbaki are honest, thought-provoking and “modern”. Balbaki plays the coarse suitor and abusive husband, and Edwards in a stellar performance plays the initially fiery Kate, who is later said to be “tamed”. It is emotively dire and shocking, and this production does not try to shy away, erase or undercut the themes which make this play so problematic for a modern audience.

Undoubtedly this is a difficult play to perform, especially regarding the themes of misogyny and domestic violence being portrayed. This cast and crew must be commended for their portrayal of these themes. The play was humorous when it needed to be and explored the subject matter of the play with great emotion and sensitivity.

The layout of the play was indeed interactive (although they could have possibly done more with this), and intimate, using only the stage of the Fitzpatrick Hall and placing the seating surrounding the action of the performance. The set was simplistic, yet effective, and the altering of the representation of Anglican marriage and households was done well.

The play began quite rigidly, as it seemed to take some time for the actors to get involved in the performance, despite a lively and energetic performance from Claire Chung who played Lucentio. However, this is understandable on the first night, and the play began to progress with more ease after the first few scenes. The snapshots we got into the courting and flourishing connection between Lucentio (Chung) and Bianca (Tapadar), contrasted well in its depiction of an endearing relationship, and I would have liked to have seen more of it portrayed. As a whole, some of the actors performances seemed to be side-lined and fade into the background of what were quite strong performances by the two main protagonists, but I am sure that they will come into their own upon the final performance.

An intersectional performance and re-inversion of the Bard, showcasing the sheer talent that BME theatre has to offer.

8:30pm, 26th- 27th  February, Fitzpatrick Hall, Queens’ College