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Theatre Talk about 'The Taming of the Shrew'

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

In a daring directorial debut, Shana Cooper was invited to The Old Globe to reimagine Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." Her point of view is clearly a feminist's revenge on a dead playwright.

Not a word in the advanced publicity indicated this new direction. Thinking I would attend Opening Night to see an updated version of this classic battle between the sexes, I must admit, I wasn't prepared to see Kate's bridegroom Petruchio wearing a white wedding dress.

What next, Goldie Hawn playing Rosa Parks or Carson Kressley playing Martin Luther King, Jr., or does diversity only go one direction?

Director Cooper's choices thrust the narrative so far forward to express her woke position, that she filled the stage with passive-aggressive-gender-bending-cross-dressers. Her reinvention is unlike anything seen before in the middle of the park.

I can only guess Edelstein thought it was a good idea. But, what about those who write the checks for season tickets? For the most part, these patrons came to see the original production varying only by updated wardrobes.

If one is so set on mocking Shakespeare's play, why bother doing it? May the heavens forfend what Cooper might do to "Romeo and Juliet."

Sure, I get it. Let's all be really with it. In step with the Tony Awards' desire to diversify, someone decided it is time to find that mysterious "New Audience" at The Old Globe. As a general rule, theatre reflects the times and what a time we're in. Yet are we really this far gone? It appears that far too many people are getting a pass just because of their color, sex, or multiple genders when diversity only reflects a small portion of society. After all, is it equitable when the best talent is overlooked?

Even the most progressive among us could not have been prepared to observe the gender-role-swapping and wardrobe exchanges; topped off by a trombone playing jester in the House of Petruchio (James Udom). Who is ready for that?

Apparently, management felt it was necessary to cram every imaginable woke concept into one single performance. However, I didn't see any woke folks in the audience on Opening Night. And therefore, the question remains who is this show for?

Finally, once found, can this new diverse audience afford a $105 ticket? Or will management fill the seats with freebies? But, in the end, the audience will decide if they wish to support gender cross-dressing with their subscription dollars.

Sadly, I cannot recommend this performance. Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" doesn't cut it for me as directed at The Old Globe. Poor ol' Bill must be rolling in his grave. This show closes July 10 at The Old Globe in Balboa Park. Rated 4 out of 10.

Up next is "Freestyle Love Supreme" an unexpected, improvisational comedy by Lin-Manual Miranda and Thomas Kail. I would encourage everyone to get prepaid parking up front for $17. Tickets can be ordered at 619-234-5623 or

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached at [email protected].


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