BWW Review: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW at The Tin Shed At The Wheatsheaf Hotel

BWW Review: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW at The Tin Shed At The Wheatsheaf HotelReviewed by Barry Lenny, Tuesday 9th January 2018.

Butterfly Theatre is back at The Wheatsheaf Hotel for a sixth season of 'Beer Theatre', a pop-up 'Shakespeare at the Pub' production of the Bard's comedy, The Taming of the Shrew. This is a ninety-minute, edited version that is inspired by the film that starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and is set during a summer in 1950s Italy.

The production, directed by Shakespeare aficionado, Megan Dansie, who has presented several award-winning productions of his works, features Georgia Stockham, as Katharina, and Gary George, as Petruchio. Dansie has crafted a fast-paced and hilarious production.

Baptista Minola's delightful daughter, Bianca, is pursued by a trio of suitors: Gremio, Lucentio, and Hortensio. She wants to marry the one of them whom she loves, Lucentio, but her father refuses to allow any marriage until Katharina, his thoroughly unpleasant eldest daughter, pursued by nobody, is married first. Bianca's plight looks hopeless until Petruchio hears of the substantial dowry being offered, and decides to woo, marry, and tame Katharina, the shrew.

The cast has been reduced to nine by eliminating numerous characters and trimming the script, the 'induction' has been completely eliminated, with one cast member, Rebecca Kemp, filling three smaller roles as a servant, the unlucky tailor who is given the task, by Petruchio, of outfitting Katharina, and Hortensio's eventual wife, a wealthy woman referred to only as the widow.

Georgia Stockham, as Katharina, and Gary George, as Petruchio, get some sparks happening as he leads her a merry dance until he wears her down into submission. These two performers each create a strong character, the unmovable object and the irresistible force, leading to a series of hilarious interchanges.

Matthew Chapman, as Lucentio, Dylan O'Donnell, as Hortensio, and Philip Lineton, as Gremio, vie for the attention of Ellen Ferguson's, Bianca. Chapman and O'Donnell get their share of laughs when Lucentio and Hortensio are pretending to be tutors to get close to Bianca, Horetensio not knowing that she has already chosen Lucentio. Lineton is Gremio, the outsider of the three, a foolish old man who thinks that his money will persuade Baptista to give him Bianca's hand. Lineton presents Gremio as a humorously dithery old man, masking his somewhat hesitant delivery of lines.

Peter Davies is commanding as the biased father, Baptista, seriously favouring one daughter over the other, and Ellen Ferguson's Bianca is well aware of Baptista's preference of her over Katherina, and Ferguson makes use of it in her portrayal to find more laughs. Brant Eustice is a standout as Petruchio's put-upon servant, Grumio, stealing every scene and keeping the audience in stitches.

There are plenty of laughs to be had in this short, sharp, and shiny production. All three shows this week have sold out, but there are still some tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday next week if you are quick to book.

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From This Author Barry Lenny

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