As the close of Women’s History Month approaches, I thought I’d stoke the flames of female empowerment and know-how with a viewing of one hotly debated comment on misogyny: William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, currently in previews at The Duke on 42nd Street.
To refresh your memory: When Kate (played here by Maggie Siff) is pressured to marry gold-digger Petruchio (played by Andy Grotelueschen) so that her more desired younger sister might marry for love, she doesn’t go quietly and proves a worthy opponent to the stiff “taming” her groom has in store for her.
Theatre for a New Audience’s associate artistic director Arin Arbus (Othello, Macbeth) sticks to her comfort zone in yet another production of Shakespeare, but gives some new muscles a workout on this comedic front. Backed by a moving and well-seasoned cast (including John Pankow, for all those Mad About You fans, as Petruchio’s right hand Grumio), Siff and Grotelueschen play stubborn and determined well and equally, complete with a couple of stage-long tussles. Ferocious physical comedy at its best!
Arbus’ production of The Shrew is a classic one and doesn’t attempt some over-the-top, fresh take on Shakespeare’s early work: We get our story within a story, when the play is performed as an attempt to entertain a drunken “noble;” costumes are simple and timely to the western frontier era; and the two or three songs dispersed throughout the play truly add to the story — without overcoming it — and make you want to sing along while you chuckle.
The Taming of the Shrew runs at The Duke on 42nd Street April 1-21. Click here for tickets , and in the meantime, tell us your thoughts on Shakespeare’s classic text. Favorite film adaptation? Must-have scenes or lines? Tell us in the comments!