BWW Reviews: THE TAMING at ArtsWest Filled with Cliché, Implausibilities and Pauses

October 4
1:29 PM 2013

If you're going to have a play espousing rhetoric on politics and the state of our Government let it have something new (or at least clever) to say, otherwise it's the same old stuff we've heard droning on for years. Well as edgy and topical as Lauren Gunderson's play "The Taming", currently playing at ArtsWest, thinks it is, what it amounts to is stereotypes pontificating through a story with so many holes in it that you'd think it had gone hunting with Dick Cheney.

In Gunderson's world we have a Republican Senator's aide, Patricia (Dayo Anderson) and a Liberal blogger, Bianca (Anna Townes) who wake up locked in a hotel room (Implausibility #1 - How do you lock someone IN a hotel room?). After some stereotypical left/right banter between the two, we find that they have been locked in there by Miss Georgia, Katherine (Justine Rose Stillwell) who has a plan to convince the two to work with her on reshaping the Constitution (which is her platform on which she hopes to win Miss America).

So these seemingly intelligent women allow themselves to be taken captive by a beauty queen and can't figure out a way to get out of a hotel room away from her? It's the Raddison, not Guantanamo Bay. And then when things begin to get out of control for her, the beauty queen knocks both of them out again with a squirt in the face of ether from a squirt gun (Implausibility #2 - Because that would knock someone out instantly?). Then after an ether induced dream, the Republican completely changes her mind (for some reason), followed by some more "wacky" antics after which the liberal storms out of the hotel room (Implausibility #3 - I thought they were locked in).

I could forgive all of these contrivances and plot holes if the characters were at all interesting but they are so broadly drawn, one-note stereotypes that I found it difficult to care. Plus all of the rhetoric and "meaningful" points they keep making are everything I've read on Facebook over the past several years all of which amounts to nothing. And what's with that title? According to the press release the author initially based this on "Taming of the Shrew". With kidnapping someone and forcing them your ideals, this play has as much to do with "Taming of the Shrew" as "A Clockwork Orange".

OK, so I didn't care for the script but did the cast sell it? Unfortunately no. Each of the women does what she can with the characters but there was a lack of intention and pace that just made things worse. And I have to question the direction of Tammis Doyle, as there were so many dropped cues and pauses that the piece just seemed longer and spun its wheels. Her first direction to them should have been five words, "Pick up the pace, ladies."

ArtsWest already teeters on that fine line between semi-professional theater and amateur community theater, and in a year of restructuring and rebranding that they're going through this is not the best way to start off their season.

"The Taming" performs at ArtsWest through October 19th. For tickets or information contact the ArtsWest box office at 206-938-0339 or visit them online at www.artswest.org.

Photo credit: Michael Brunk

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