Last night I went to see a performance of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Now, this was not done by some world renowned acting troupe, nor even a college level group. No, it was done by one of the local high schools. Now, that being said, it was actually quite good. Of course, I also know a good portion of the cast, so I am supposed to say things like this, but if any of them ever read this, they know that I don’t pull punches when it comes to criticism. I just say it like it is, and if they can’t deal with it they are probably in the wrong business to begin with.
Now, I have never seen this play before, nor do I believe have I ever read the play in school or anywhere else. It would probably have been a bit prudent of me to at least have read a one-page summary of what it was about prior to going, but oh well. The reason I bring this up is that for the first fifteen minutes or so of the play I was completely lost in what was going on. There is a certain amount of adjusting one has to do in order to get into the feel for Shakespearean prose, and when you couple that with a main character who is battling an oriental accent in order to get their diction right, well, it was difficult to say the least.
The girl playing Kate (or Katherine, or whatever) did a fine job, though the first half of her work took hardly any actual acting. The final monologue from her took a lot, however. I guess you have to know the play in order to understand what I am talking about here. Needless to say, she is a person who has a will of her own normally.
The guy who played Baptista is, quite frankly, an ass. Always has been. He can act, but he has a tendency to overact, mainly because he believes he is better than he truly is. Oh, he’s good, I’ll give him that, but he isn’t the best, and eventually someone is going to show that to him, and I have a feeling when that time comes, it is going to be painful.
Now, the guy who played Biodello is an awkward youth. Hopefully he will grow out of this eventually, but for now he needs to learn how to stand straighter, perhaps go through a movement class or three, because on stage he simply looks very awkward.
The rest of the cast did fine, and I really didn’t see anything that bad occurring, nor that stupendous that it requires pointing out here.
One incident that did occur in the show was a dinner scene in which one of the serving wenches tripped and crashed into the table, sending everything on the table down onto the floor, and breaking the wine bottle that had been sitting on the table. Glass all over the floor, no easy way to play it down. It took them three or four attempts between scenes to clean it up properly, when what they should have done was get a dustmop on it in their first break to get the glass out of the way. Actors can deal with a wet deck, but glass is just bloody dangerous.
The other momentous occasion occurred in a break-out scene with Bianca and her two suitors who were vying for her hand in marriage, one through intellect, the other through the arts. The one who was trying through the arts had a mandolin in hand, and as he sat there flirting with Bianca, mandolin sitting in his lap with the neck pointing out like a phallus, it rose as he felt that he was getting closer and closer to victory… right up to the point where she shoots him down, at which point the mandolin also came down to lay there…. limp. The person sitting with me had to restrain me from truly breaking up in laughter, as it was subtle the way he did this, and there were parents in the room whom I do not think realized just what was going on… not to mention their much younger children next to them who really did not know what was going on.
So there we have it, another play done and over with, something that I hopefully will not ever have to go and see again.