Saturday, September 28, 2013
Having sketched the early stages of the set build, I decided to sit in the same Loge seat to sketch "The Taming of the Shrew" on September 25th. Actress Melissa Mason addressed the audience before the play began. This production would be staged in the 1880'swild west because Shakespeare's play has much violence and a headstrong woman would make perfect sense in an early settlement where anything goes. The play was written in 1594.
The production was a comedic romp that employed some of Shakespeare's favorite gags such as switched identities. Melissa played the beautiful Biance in blonde curls and a pink dress who had many suitors. Lucertio (Chris Ryan), wealthy landowner Germino (Brandon Roberts), and local Hortensio (Chris Metz) are all trying to win her hand. Bianca's father Baptista Minola (John Ahlin) however insisted that Bianca could not marry until her sister Kate (Deanna Gibson) was married. Kate was a bartender who preferred a foul mouthed brawl to any kindness.
At the center of the show is a high stakes battle of the sexes. Rancher Petruchio (Geoffrey Kent) is persuaded to pursue Kate. Bianca's suitors covered all costs and if he succeeded he would profit from Kate's rich dowry. The courtship was close to witnessing a WWF wrestling match. Endless impassioned fights were played for great comedic effect. Eventually the rancher wins Kate's hand. Having married her, he begins to try and break her, just as he would a wild stallion. He denied his new bride food, sleep and fresh clothing while still singing her praises. This resulted in his getting a black eye but over time Kate was coaxed to admit gratitude. I grew more annoyed as Kate softened. I preferred seeing her fiery western independence.
When Lucentio won Bianca's hand, the men at the reception make a wager about who has the most obedient wife. Surprisingly Kate is the only wife who comes when summoned. Petruchio wins the bet, his cowboy hat full of money. But the couple have also won each other, discovering mutual respect on the tale of conflict.
I must admit that there were moments in the play where Shakespeare's words were lost on me. With so many characters changing their identities, I at times lost track of who was who. Kate's final speech however was beautifully worded and inspired. Mark Your Calendar! The Taming of the Shrew is running through October 6th in the Margison Theater in the Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 E Rollins St Orlando, FL). Tickets are between $20 and $40.
Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, a one man show, will open October 9th and run through November 10, 2013. This should be a perfect play for the Halloween season.