Monday, November 19, 2007

Taming of the Shrew, Washington DC

Kat and I met our friend Sherin (familiar to all you readers of BPD) on Saturday to see "The Taming of the Shrew" at the Harman Center for the Arts in downtown DC (7th St NW, y'all). I'd been in a production (as Biondello, the hapless younger servant of Lucentio) many years ago and figured it'd be fun to watch the show instead of being in it.

We were floored. What a great production! We loved Charlayne Woodard as Katherina and Christopher Innvar as Petruchio especially; their chemistry was brawling, physical, lusty and exciting to see develop. Truly a very well-chosen pair for this role.

We also liked: Nicholas Hormann as the beset-but-enterprising father Baptista; Lisa Birnbaum as the much-desired (but ultimately less pleasing) Bianca; Aubrey Deeker as Hortensio (who plays the character as a '70s-era slicked-back caricature- well done!); Michael Milligan as Lucentio/Cambio, who wins a prize that may not be all he'd hoped; and the diverse cast of disowned fathers, cunning servants (Louis Butelli as Grumio was superb and Bruce Nelson as Tranio a pleasure to watch) and impostors (several of the men adopt aliases, which can become dizzying). In all, the cast was fantastic.

But the cast was fortunate enough to have a setting that matches their artistry. The blog wants to pay special compliments to director Rebecca Bayla Taichman and set designer Narelle Sissons for going above and beyond. The staging was ingenious.

As a side note, Kat and I have discussed at length the outcome of the play. Not to spoil anything but Katherina's final speech may strike many as the product of a monstrously chauvinistic and un-PC society. But I think:

  • Petruchio shared all of the deprivations he inflicted on Katherina-- he didn't feast while she starved or slept while she remained awake;
  • as staged, there is absolutely no doubt of his love for her--he simply needs to get her attention and does so in the most efficient way possible, and he earns her love by the end;
  • Katherina "gets" Petruchio-- this is their game, their way of understanding each other, and her willingness to submit is more an acknowledgement of their partnership than of her spirit being broken
That's my take, anyway.

If you're looking for an outstanding trip to the theater, check out "Shrew" while you can. It's been extended through this week, so go see it! Now!

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