The Taming of the Shrew

William Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Globe
(2003)

The final play of the Globe's season once again features the excellent women's company, this time with a female director, Phyllida Lloyd.

The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare's lighter comedies and under Miss Lloyd's sure guidance, brings its audience to a pitch almost of rapture. This is primarily due to a combination of Miss Lloyd's wit and great performances from the two leads.

Kathryn Hunter has already had a success as Richard III and now takes on a female part as Kate the Shrew. This is an older daughter who must marry in order to free her very popular sister to do so.

Miss Hunter, for once taking something of a back seat, gives an excellent performance as her character develops from violence, through a wedding in a dress with satirical angel's wings, to mute submission and eventual obsequious obedience and, dare one say it, love.

This is all the result of her marriage to Petruchio, a virtuoso, strutting performance from Janet McTeer, always convincing in breeches, unlike one or two of her colleagues. Her movements are perfect and she has a great sense of comic timing, especially when having fun at the expense of his/her wife, who is treated far worse than the wonderfully believable dog.

This excellent pair is well supported, especially by a trio of scene-stealing servants, Linda Bassett's brash Grumio, Amanda Harris' Tranio who is a more convincing Lucentio than her boss and Liza Hayden as Biondello, a tiny confused and confusing boy.

The Globe's costume team of Jenny Tiramani and Imogen Ross surpass themselves with beautiful designs in all of the colours of the rainbow.

This strongly-recommended production shows Shakespeare at his funniest with both verbal and visual humour in abundance. While some of the casting may not be perfect, it is to be hoped that the women's company will be back to entertain us in future and that it might once again feature Mesdames McTeer and Hunter.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher