It is a really bad sign if you are doing a Shakespearean comedy and the audience is not laughing at all. The Taming of the Shrew is usually a brash, fun play; sadly this production was dull and lackluster instead.
The plot of The Taming of the Shrew follows two daughters, Katharine (Maggie Champagne) and Bianca (Marisa Hoban). Their father, Baptista (Andrew Clateman), refuses to let the more-sought-after, younger daughter Bianca marry until Katharine does. Unfortunately, Katharine is a shrill shrew -- she is obnoxious and mean and torments her sister incessantly. She has no suitors, while Bianca has many.
Petruchio (Brian Flegel) bursts onto the scene. He will marry any woman as long as she has a sizable dowry. He goes about wooing Katharine, marries her, and then through careful manipulation tames her. In the subplot, Lucentio (Matt Knight) switches places with his servant to get closer to Bianca. Eventually, he seduces her and thwarts the other suitors' plans.
White's direction was unfocused. His actors were all over the place in style, without consistency or humor. The staging was mostly linear (people standing in a line). The only successful element was the pacing, which kept the show moving; the scene changes were brisk (mostly because there was hardly any set, which worked well).
Some of the ensemble had serious potential; however, the director failed to bring it out in them. He also failed to create a consistent tone -- sometimes the acting was realistic, at other times over-the-top. Occasionally, there was a glimmer of an inspired moment, but sadly those glimmers were sparse.
Claudia Luongo's costumes were vibrant and colorful, but for the most part this Shrew was tame from the beginning.
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Copyright 2005 Seth Bisen-Hersh