A contemporary take on this classic
Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew has always been regarded as one of the most sexist and misogynistic plays to date. Centered around a wealthy man forcibly wedding a “shrill” and “defiant” woman in order to obtain the dowry that her father presents. In essence, The Taming of the Shrew is focused, for the most of the play, on the concept of a woman being subservient to her husband.
The Queen’s Company, NYC’s first all-female classical theater company, is presenting their own version of this play. The style and script are very much the same as the original version, but there are some major changes to the presentation of the play. Exploring sexist themes and transcending gender based roles with this all-female cast, this interpretation of the Taming of the Shrew is one that cannot be missed. Not only was the acting spot on, but the way that they used body language and tone to really point out controversial themes was something to really commend. Sometimes Shakespeare can be boring and hard to sit through. However, this two hour play was extremely fun to sit through. The fact that the theater (Wild Project) was relatively small, made for a very intimate performance that helped the audience connect on a deeper level with what was being presented.
One thing that really stood out was their approach to mock what was considered ladylike in that time period. Bianca Minola, the younger sister of Katherina, is considered the ideal wife because she is very quiet and obedient as well as very pretty. With those traits in mind and coming from a contemporary viewpoint, The Queen’s Company thought it would be appropriate to cast Bianca as a blow-up doll. This was interesting to see because it was a very clever commentary on how men at that time viewed women as an object for sex and didn’t want a wife with opinions or who spoke at all. It was extremely funny to see a lot of the male characters lust after this doll too.
Also, the comedy in this play was spot on. The timing with these actors was great. A lot of the jokes made landed well. And these actors were able to make jokes not only with their words but also with their body language which was refreshing to see. And even their little tweaks with the original play was great — such as the lip syncs to very popular songs.
One actor that really stood out in her performance was Tiffany Abercrombie, who played Katherina. There was a level of depth to this character that was refreshing to see. This character who is portrayed as a “shrew” is played out to be a woman, who although has a quick temper, has a wide range of emotions that a lot of interpretations of this play fail to really explore fully. Tiffany really delves into this character and performs it in a way where you really can’t hate Kate and actually feel bad for how she is misunderstood throughout the entire play. The hurt that Tiffany brings to this character, a woman who is overshadowed by her “perfect” younger sister, is done beautifully. This character has the risk of being overdone when evoking emotions like anger and grief but Tiffany was able to show these emotions in a more subtle manner.
Overall, this performance was an extremely memorable one. The Queen’s Company did a wonderful job at giving the audience a show. The way they were able to balance out the comedy with the drama was extremely commendable. There are very little critiques that can be made to this show.
The Taming of the Shrew runs from April 16 – May 1, 2016 in a limited engagement at the Wild Project, located at 195 East 3rd Street between Avenue A and Avenue B in New York City.
Performances are Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased online at http://QueensCompany.org or by calling 1-866-811-4111. Tickets are 2 for 1 on Tuesday nights. For info visit http://QueensCompany.org,