365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

273. The Taming of the Shrew

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William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” is often considered one of his funniest, despite its arguable immaturity as a play. It is not as refined as his later comedies, but is still full of the trademark wit and wordplay that readers and audience members have come to expect and love from Shakespeare’s canon.

The premise of the play is stated in the title: there is a wild woman, or a “shrew”, named Kate, who must be married so that her sister may also do so. However, there are no men who would dare even venture too close to her, let alone attempt to woo her…save for one brave soul, Petruchio, for whom the promise of a fortune far outweighs the risk of being near Kate. He sets out to woo her, marry her, and tame her into something resembling a suitable and obedient wife.

The difficulty in performing this play generally lies in Petruchio’s character. He so badly mistreats Kate that there is always the risk of making the play a little too much like an after school special about domestic abuse. To be effective, it would seem that by the end of the play, though Kate is indeed tamed, Petruchio ought to be just as exhausted and tame as hiswife!

One of the best things about this play is that it offers two interesting female roles: Kate, of course, and her younger sister, Bianca. The two are like yin and yang, and each is wonderfully challenging to the actress who must undertake them. Kate must not be too evil in her shrewishness, and Bianca cannot be but so bland in her Disney Princess perfection. There are lots of opportunities for actors to stretch their talent muscles!

With such quick and sharp verbal sparring as the Beatrice and Benedick wordplay from “Much Ado About Nothing” and featuring catfights and other physical stunts that can often put “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to shame, “The Taming of the Shrew” offers laugh-a-minute fun and plenty to quote after the curtain falls. Anyone who enjoyed the movie “10 Things I Hate About You” will recognize the storyline within, as the film is based off of this idea of Shakespeare’s. It is a hilarious play that a competent company of players can easily turn into a work of comedic art, and it is one that will surely continue to keep audiences amused for centuries yet to come.

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Written by Caroline Mincks

July 1, 2010 at 7:48 PM

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