The Taming of the Shrew (2008): Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol
PrThe Taming of the Shrew (2008)
CAST INCLUDED: Roland Oliver (Baptista); Saskia Portway (Kate); Annabel Scholey (Bianca); Leo Wringer (Petruchio).
This production ran from 7 February - 15 March 2008.
"Dream, disguise and duplicity are brought to the fore in Andrew Hilton's admirably level-headed production of this tricky play. Bill Wallis opens the show as sozzled, dishevelled tinker Christopher Sly, duped into believing he is noble. What he soon realises is that he had more fun as he was. It is the first of many cruel or competitive transformations in this uneasy comedy that leads to the taming of a feisty, fiery wife. Hilton's avoidance of even a gently feminist reinterpretation leaves us with the original drama in all its vexing complexity. Shakespeare pits two immensely powerful characters, Kate and Petruchio, against each other, with an outcome that seems to sit as uneasily with his other dramas as it does with modern sensibilities. And yet, thanks largely to well-matched performances from Saskia Portway as Kate and Leo Wringer as Petruchio, this is a Shrew that makes you think rather than simply push its uncomfortable ideas aside. Portway screeches truculantly; Wringer mixes mischief and an edge of danger in his game-playing. It is, ultimately, impossible to fathom what drives them to the accommodation they settle upon, but both find a new ease in themselves and a considerable erotic connection through it." ~ Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian, 15 February 2008
"The problem with Andrew Hilton's elegant, frisky production lies in the taming process. Petruchio (Leo Wringer) and Katherina (Saskia Portway) are suitably confrontational: he's smug and arrogant, she's gung-ho from the word go, but there's no hint that either of them might, even unconsciously, begin to fancy the other. Katherina is only a touch put out that he can make her laugh, and she softens up only after she has been terrorised by a power freak. That reduces the characters and the play to the politically incorrect monstrosity that feminists object to." ~ John Peter, Sunday Times, 24 February 2008, in Theatre Record 2008, Issue 4
"The [Tobacco] Factory's staple is well-spoken Shakespeare for which, judging from jam-packed houses, there's a gleeful demand....My chief problem with it is Leo Wringer's Petruchio. He gives a wry, dignified performance in what is surely a roistering Peter O'Toole of a part." ~ Robert Gore-Langton, Daily Mail, 15 February 2008, in Theatre Record 2008, Issue 4