The Taming of the Shrew (1975): Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company
PrThe Taming of the Shrew (1975)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Vivienne Avramoff (Bianca); Patricia McLoughlin (Katherina); Hugh Quarshie (Petruchio); Roy Weskin (Baptista Minola).
This production was undertaken under the auspices of the Oxford and Cambridge Theatre Company. Information about this production is taken from the Oxford Playhouse files at the V&A Theatre and Performance Archive. Exact dates are unknown, but the company usually played in Oxford and Cambridge before embarking on a tour of the USA.
"What would Othello be like without Iago. The Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company's dismal Shrew is too confused to be called the answer, but it's an approximation. Hugh Quarshie's black Petruchio, telling Grumio how he has in his time heard lions roar, has some of the Moor's early insolent cool, and as the sullen, gangling but otherwise featureless Katherina, Patricia McLoughlin is almost as passive as Desdemona. Attractive as it is, this perhaps unintended parallel makes nonsense of an already garbled play whose main interest must lie in Petruchio's steady destruction of his wife's apparently indomitable will by a mixture of technique including starvation and deprivation of sleep. Unable to decide whether Shakespeare is criticising the sexist, mercantile world of Padua or comically condoning it, Brian Gilbert's production at the Oxford Playhouse ignores the question altogether. Cop-out in fact, is the general approach. Elizabethan costumes, authenticity bulging in every football-sized codpiece are made of William Morris fabric, sack is poured from warty Tudor bottles into Habitat glasses, baroque music booms over the speakers. There are occasional spurts of good comic business, particularly successful when Roy Weskin's bemused, subtly played Ba[p]tista is left alone with the embarrassed wedding guests after Petruchio and Katherina's exit; but they are no substitute for a clear interpretation with coherent pacing and style." ~ Jeremy Treglown, "The Taming of the Shrew", Guardian, 12 September 1975
"The Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company, this year directed by Brian Gilbert, is due to tour America later on, after making its usual circuit. Although the production's approach has the virtue of being straightforward (and what else can one do, honestly, with The Shrew?) there is still much work to be done on tightening up the playing, and to judge from the performance at the Oxford Playhouse, and on giving the production as a whole some strong continuity and identifiable rhythm. The setting is a sparse one. The design is credited to Ralph Koltai and Annena Stubbs, but any self-respecting director could have thought up the simple, raked stage and ring of spotlamps on a three-sided grid, without recourse to a designer....As Petruchio, Hugh Quarshie is engaging and warm-hearted, and speaks some of the verse well, though at other times he could do with being crisper. He does at least make an effort to project, as does Patricia McLoughin as Kate." ~ Garry O'Connor, "The Taming of the Shrew", Financial Times, 12 September 1975