Theatre Review: Shakespeare´s Globe on Tour: The Taming of The Shrew

Review by Jackie Leonard, Shakespeare´s Globe on Tour: The Taming of The Shrew, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

On a balmy summer night in the gardens of Corpus Christi, a packed audience watched the ‘mad matches’ of Petruchio and Katherina, and the gentle wooing of her sister Bianca, ‘patron saint of heavenly harmony’, in a thrilling version of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.

The all-female cast further subverts the twists and turns of Shakespeare’s swapping of roles and confusion of characters. Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) is played by Remy Beasley, who with excellent comic timing and vaudeville exuberance, adds fun throughout.

Petruchio, played with gusto and traditional male swagger by Leah Whitaker, is given a feminist twist, showing vulnerability on first meeting Katherina when he is almost lost for words. Katherina, played sensitively by Kate Lamb, also shows expertly the complexity behind the role of ‘fiend of hell’, as Gremio (Joy Richardson) refers to her. In one instance we see her jealousy behind the scolding tongue: ‘she is your treasure’ she says to her father of Bianca.

Shakespeare’s play is brought to life with topical humour, as in the reference to ‘horse’ meat, and modern terminology, including the comic ‘yep’ of the disguised Lucentio (Becci Gemmell) and the ‘do-re-mi’ rhyme of Hortensio’s wooing of Bianca.

Musical interludes also update a 16th Century play for a 21st Century audience, the whole cast of actors involved in the singing and the playing of modern instruments, including the guitar, saxophone and trumpet.

The costumes are ‘not time-specific’ (Kate Lamb) but are an eclectic mix of colourful costumes, ranging from the fashion of the early 20th century, to the mini-skirts and white sunglasses of the 1960s, to Grumio dressed in a ‘Biggles’ style outfit and played with rowdy humour by Kathryn Hunt (also doubling as Katherina’s and Bianca’s father).

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A thrill to watch from start to finish, with rapid changes of scenes and characters, a fantastic cast and a modern feminist twist, the poignant final speech by Katherina (Kate Lamb) leaving a stunned audience to then sit back and enjoy the musical finale.