THE TAMING OF THE SHREW is Shakespeare’s most outrageous comedy. One of theatre’s great screwball double-acts with a couple hell-bent on confusing and out-witting each other. First performed in London in the 1590’s, it was farcical and probably hilarious to Elizabethans, but it’s message of ‘taming’ a woman with a fiery personality and making her subservient to her husband does not always sit well with modern audiences.
Toby Frow’s production for The Globe in the summer of 2012 featured double-Olivier Award-winning actress Samantha Spiro as Katherina and Simon Paisley Day as Petruchio. It Included the ‘induction’ by the character, Christopher Sly who takes to the stage as Petruchio, so the ‘play-within-a-play’ is more a fantasy, wishful thinking rather than reality, tempering the misogynistic theme. The Guardian’s Michael Billington wrote as “both actors go at it hammer and tongs” throughout the entire play that this is a “…knockout Shrew that doesn’t go in for much psychological depth and presents Katherina’s final speech of submission without irony.”
Jane Shilling in The Telegraph describes Samantha’s Kath as “a compact, muscular spitfire whose gentlewoman’s education has evidently included self-defence classes”, as she drops her suitor to the ground on their first encounter.
I ‘drew the Shrew’ with this in mind, but never got it signed… until… as per chance, both actors were on the London stage over this Christmas period past But alas, not on the same stage. Samantha was in A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Noel Coward and Simon in THE LORAX across the Thames at the Old Vic. Still that’s why there’s seven days and nights in a week and it took two of them to complete the mission.