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Review: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW at Southwest Shakespeare Company

Review: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW at Southwest Shakespeare Company

BWW Review: The Taming of the Shrew

It is difficult to find something more enjoyable than Shakespeare done right. The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare's best known and often adapted plays. It tells the story of an exasperated father, desperate to ensure his daughters are married to suitable partners. The trouble is, Katherine is vexing and shrill; the exact opposite of her sister, Bianca. In order for Bianca to accept one of her many suitors, Kate must be married first according to the edict of her father. Enter the dashing and arrogant, Petruchio, who is just crazy and broke enough to accept the challenge of taming Kate. This superb cast presents a fresh re-telling of a timeless classic with heart, humor, and panache.

The title couple, Kate and Petruchio, are played by real-life married couple, Quinn Mattfeld and Betsy Mugavero. Mattfeld brings the perfect balance of confidence and haughtiness to Petruchio. Obviously, the couple share a natural chemistry, but with this fantastic material, their chemistry is electric. Every time the two are on stage, the laughter is profuse and uncontrollable. Mugavero brings a frenetic charm to Kate that allows the audience to believe her transformation. Mattfeld and Mugavero are brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

The other couple highlighted in the play is Bianca and Lucentio. Bianca is played by Kelly Nicole and Lucentio is played by Dalton T. Davis. This couple has a sweet chemistry and contributes humor and playfulness to the proceedings. Nicole brings a unique mischievousness to Bianca that helps the audience understand why Kate reacts to things the way she does. Davis presents Lucentio with confidence and an affluent air. He has impeccable comedic timing, no more apparent than when he shares the stage with Jeff Deglow who plays his friend and servant, Tranio. Deglow is hysterical. He understands the nuances of the language and has a marvelous physicality. This trio is heavily involved in the shenanigans and they definitely deliver.

Bianca's other suitors, Gremio and Hortensio, are played by Jim Coates and Clay Sanderson, respectively. Coates is genuinely funny and a perfect partner in crime. Sanderson plays his part well, capturing the heart ache and longing that comes with being sidelined by true love. Love and obedience are the overwhelming themes of this play, and there is no one more obedient that Petruchio's servant, Grumio. Played by Phillip Herrington, Grumio takes quite a beating at the hands of his oblivious master. Herrington is excellent with physical comedy and delivers his lines with sardonic perfection.

As Baptista, Beau Heckman is the perfect patriarch. He delivers his lines with strength. He understands the humor of the play and the nuances of the language. Breona Conrad plays Biandella, the servant of Lucentio's father who assists Tranio as he impersonates Lucentio. Conrad is energetic and captivating. She is fun to watch and her chemistry with the other characters seems effortless.

The supporting cast is phenomenal and plays several roles which is standard with smaller companies. Each role is imperative to the story and is presented with natural expertise. The direction is simple and effective. The set is dressed simply against the backdrop of the replica of the Globe stage. The costumes are Elizabethan which allows the actors to use them to their advantage. There are so many positive things to say about this cast and production that one review cannot contain them. This show is worth seeing over and over again.

The Taming of the Shrew is directed by Amie Bjorklund and presented by the Southwest Shakespeare Company at the Mesa Arts Center. It runs through March 9. Tickets can and should be purchased here.

Photo provided courtesy of Southwest Shakespeare Company and Durant Photography

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