August 16th, 2007

Galen 2013

The Taming of the Shrew

Ashland, OR
at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Taming of the Shrew at Oregon ShakespeareThe Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

There's so much chemistry between Vilma Silva's Katherina and Michael Elich's Petruchio that this male chauvinism manual almost escapes its own words.  Silva is a striking, confident, beautiful woman.  Elich is vigorous and sexy in a way that seems unique to wiry bald men.  Together on stage the are in love and lust.

This production is a straight-on shrew taming.  No winks, nods, or knowing looks that sometimes indicate that Kate is complicit in a charade.  No, in this staging Kate and Petruchio may be in love, but Kate learns submission to her man.

I have a difficult time cheering a great production that is delivering an unsavory message.  Not only does this Shrew avoid a socially redeeming nuance, it instead revels in providing an excellent exposition in proper male and female role models.  The night creeped me out.

Oddly, the most enthusiastic praise of the evening came from women in the audience.  The on-stage physical tension apparently made the male dominance in the text okay?  One female friend waxed eloquent on how Kate's instructions to the other wives on how to behave was the clearest and best she'd ever seen.  Well, yes, but...

When I tried to voice discomfort over the literalness of this production I was cut off with the question that didn't I know that a woman directed the show?  Well, yes, but...

Where's Billy Jean King smacking Bobby Riggs when I need her?Collapse )

This Taming is probably worth seeing just because it's doubtful that many directors let the show go on as written, without attempting to reconcile Shakespeare to today's political correctness.  The company does a remarkable job supporting the book.  The palatable heat between the shrew and her tamer actually does provide understandable motivation for Kate's submission.  Yes, but...

This is a play I just don't have to see again, especially when performed so straightly.  Ozdachs' rating: Three Syntaxes out of Five.