The Taming Of The Shrew At IU: Review

An outsized spirit at war with her body and culture meets another spirit wounded by war.

Kate and Petruchio in a bit of a stand off

Photo: Ivona Hedin

Molly Casey as "Katherine the Curst" with the disbelieving wooer, Petruchio played by Adam Noble.

Event Information

The Taming of the Shrew

Shakespeare's drama set in contemporary Florida


Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center

July 15 alternating with You Can’t Take It with You in repertory through July 28, 2012 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 28

812 855 1103

The Indiana Festival Theatre production of The Taming of the Shrew is really good.

From the first view of designer Tim Barbiaux’s lush, yet tasteful contemporary upscale earth toned Miami home and courtyard to the subtly firm final gesture of Molly Casey as the Shrew with the now deferent Adam Noble as Petruchio, We’re offered the richness of Shakespeare’s characters with their language along with direction and a cast to take advantage of both.

Molly Casey as the Shrew is clearly first an outsized spirit at war with her female body and culture and later more comfortable in her skin, but clearly still with an outsized intellect and generous sensitivity. Andrea Mellos as her supposedly sweet sister Bianca is interestingly a bit more rambunctious and less saccharine than the text may suggest. Nancy Lipschultz as their mother has the kind of commanding presence that anchors and supports her scenes.

Bianca’s suitors are a fascinatingly varied trio. Rob Johansen is delightful as the golf playing old duffer Gremio. Ben Abbott, especially with his put on whiskers and French accent, is great fun as the surfer dude suitor. The contemporary Florida setting allows Timothy Pyles to wax eloquently and even testify a bit with a broadly silly southern accent. Ken Farrell, playing a tourist roped into playing the father of one of the suitors was a late addition and a very comical and welcome one.

Adam Noble is indeed noble as Petruchio, a scarred war vet who’s come to “… wive it wealthily…” His energized, but often thoughtful wooing for The Taming of the Shrew follows a fascinating alternation with some actions edging toward abuse and tsome with clear concern.  Nicole Bruce as his servant was a magnet for double and even triple comic takes on the action.

The Indiana Festival Theatre’s production, directed by Jonathan Michaelsen is a very funny and energetic one. It brings out the comedy through the richness of the characters and at the same time keeps the story very much in focus. And as I said at the beginning, it’s really good.

 

George Walker

George Walker was born in Winchester, Virginia, and raised in Owl’s Head, Maine, and Valhalla, New York. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he came to Bloomington in 1966 and completed an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University. George began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Currently, along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists in a wide variety of areas and reviews plays and operas. He’s the proud father of grown sons Ben Walker (and his wife Elise Katzif Walker) and Aaron Walker. In his time away from WFIU, George enjoys an active life with wife Carolyn Lipson-Walker, singing, reading, exercising and playing guitar.

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  • Sadie M Carter

    Some really interesting things were attempted in this production, but it came with a few drawbacks. Kate’s styling suggested a toned-down Lisbeth Salander, and I can’t decide if that was trite or inspired. It did set her apart from the rest of the brightly-attired cast, which complimented Petruchio’s military drab. Casey’s physicality on the stage was engrossing. But for all her heavy sighs, bordering on screams, she still lacked the inner rage & the light of wit that makes a Shrew just a bit loveable, just a bit redeemable. Instead, she seemed merely petulant and cruel. And no wonder– Bianca’s suitors/tutors are so likeable, Baptista so generous and benevolent, and Petruchio so unfailingly noble, that there is hardly anything for Kate to rage against. And if Kate has nothing to rage against, there’s no reason to root for her to fall in love.

    The traumatized-soldier take on Petruchio was fascinating. His moments of flashback, his rage when recalling his battles, were some of the best moments in the play. But he seemed to take no genuine interest in Kate– the initial wooing, one of my favorite scenes in the play, lacked chemistry and felt forced. He seemed merely exasperated, when we need his initial avarice and appall at Kate’s behavior to be complicated by a genuine interest in her. Their early married days, in the original a sadistic yet delightful battle of wills that brings them together, was flat, a training exercise, although I did like the way he conveyed his own exhaustion and difficulty with his taming program. Ultimately, to clinch that difficult romance, Petruchio and Kate need to enjoy their sparring a bit, need to be wearing each other down and earning one anothers’ respect. It didn’t quite fly.

    On the bright side, Grumio absolutely stole the show! Her delivery made the archaic language intelligible, hilarious, and emotional; her physical delivery was also brilliant, original, and never over the top. After this, I will show up to anything IU puts on with Nicole Bruce in the program! And the silver lining of the too-likeable suitors and Baptista was that they were a lot of fun to watch, especially Hortensio, whose performance as himself was agreeably laid-back, while his ersatz-French persona admirably carried off the feat of playing a character-within-a-character. The modern Floridian setting, which I had reservations about, was fun and well-integrated. It is a wonderful comedy! Just, this time, not a very good romance.

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