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The Taming of the Shrew

by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : Georgia Shakespeare [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Conant Performing Arts Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 466

SHOWING : October 11, 2002 - November 03, 2002



Petruchio comes to Padua looking for some quick cash even if it means marrying the sharp-tongued and spirited Katharina for her dowry. He soon finds he has gotten more than he's bargained for as the world's most famous battle of the sexes begins. Who's taming who in this classic Shakespeare comedy? Directed by Richard Garner. Opens October 11.

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The Spirit of Shrew
by Fran
Sunday, October 27, 2002
Had the incredible pleasure of seeing GSF's Taming of the Shrew tonight and what a joy it was. I have never experienced a production that had such spirit as this one did. An ensemble of gifted actors seeming to have the time of their lives and it was utterly infectious. Admittedly, the storytelling was muddy at times, but the performers made up for it with their inventiveness. The Petruccio and Kate at the heart of this wild ride were utterly irresistable (Saxon Palmer and Gabra Zachman). You knew these two belonged together from the moment they stepped onstage together. Palmer's Petruccio was gratefully understated and earnest while still embracing the wilder, comic side of this cowboy. Zachman was understated as well, yet didn't seem to have quite as much fun as her counterpart did. Still, this was a match made in Shakespeare heaven. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Fellini Schmellini
by Dedalus
Friday, October 25, 2002
I approached the GSF Production of "The Taming of the Shrew" with anticipation. Advertised as "Shakespeare meets Fellini," the concept seemed outrageous and appropriate. Unfortunately, the execution seemed more like the creation of someone who had never seen a Fellini movie, but only a few stills of his more flamboyant moments.

Which is unfortunate, because this production was centered by a very real and very compelling Kate/Petruchio relationship, the result of excellent performances by Gabra Zackman and Saxon Palmer, bolstered by a directorial point-of-view highlighting the love between the characters.

In his director's notes, director Richard Garner writes "Padua reminds me of a world in a Fellini film, where if you pull one character out and look at them in isolation, they seem a misfit, out of place, a touch surreal. But if you consider themin the context of the world they come from, they fit right in and seem perfectly 'normal'. Anyone who isn't like them is an outsider." That this shows a profound misinterpretation of Fellini is perhaps irrelevant, since it is this concept which is at the heart of Mr. Garner's work here, and its literary basis is neither here nor there. But the reasons it doesn't especially work here can, ironically, be found in Fellini. Fellini's characters exist in a self-contained "world" in which, no matter how surreal they become, they seem to belong. Even the so-called "normal" characters, seem to arise out of the same universe. The more surreal the character, the more likely he or she is found in a dream ("La Strada"), a fantasy ("8 1/2"), or an omniscient memory ("Amarcord") This grounds them in the same universe as the more "realistic" characters conceiving them (Gelsomina, Guido, of Fellini himself).

In GSF's "Shrew," however, the flamboyant Paduans have nothing in common with the more down-to-earth Kate and Petruchio. Losing this connection, they also lose their credibility. They are not surreal characters, they are actors doing schtick. The fact that the concept is not applied universally (The Pisan characters seem to suffer the same idiotic mannerisms as the Paduans) only makes the excecution more clumsy.

Again, this is a shame, because, on paper, the concept is novel and sound.

The play starts out wonderfully with extravagance upon extravagance, and, at the beginning, it is easy to accept these fools as people. It is only when we see the "outsiders" sharing the stage that the artifice becomes apparent, and the production falls apart. Once this happens, scenes become static (the Kate/Petruchio "wooing" scene and the "auction" scene were especially disappointing), overstated (a flamboyantly gay haberdasher? Gee, that's something we've never seen before), or just plain clumsy (Lucentio and Bianca grappling behind the scenery).

I don't want to comment too much on the supporting performances, since most were betrayed by the concept. But I would like to complain that Jen Apgar, who I've really liked in similar roles, here takes her standard "B-L-O-N-D" routine to an irritating repetitiveness, and Jonathan Davis' Grumio lacks any kind of drive that would make him the compelling clown he should be (Every time he walked on stage, you almost hear the energy leaking out like a slow puncture).

But still, at the heart, is that beautiful dynamic with Kate and Petruchio. These were "lovers" in every sense of the word -- they had heat, they had fun, they had tenderness.

Unfortunately, they were trapped in a world from some other play, some other universe, some other reality. And that is tragic.



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