Re: 'Theatre Talk About 'The Taming of the Shrew'' [Village News, 6/23/22]
Last updated 7/18/2022 at 10:43am
I suspected that I’d be writing a rebuttal to Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal’s June 23 review of the latest Old Globe production of “The Taming of the Shrew” as soon as I read it – but first my “hooked on Shakespeare” friend and I had to see it for ourselves.
So, no Elizabeth, there’s no way “Poor ol’ Bill (Will) would be rolling in his grave” at seeing this production that you rated 4 out of 10. He would have loved it for its originality and spunk.
If the great Bard was anything like the creative, worldly wise dramatist depicted in PBS’s “Upstart Crew” or, more realistically, the man described in Bill Bryson’s “Shakespeare: the World as Stage,” he would have seen this production as a rip-roaring success from the beginning, at a time remember, when only men were allowed to act.
Hence your suggestion, Elizabeth, that the Old Globe production by talented director Shana Cooper was “to express her woke position…and fill the stage with aggressive-gender-bending-cross-dressers” is way off the mark. In Shakespeare’s time, every female role had to be played by a male “crossdresser” – many of whom surely enjoyed the experience.
“The Shrew” has never been an easy play to read; it is a challenge for any producer to bring it to life with actors who can depict the intended roles. I thought Cooper and her talented mixed race cast did a brilliant job of entertaining an appreciative audience with the help of dance moves, musical numbers and lots of visual humor.
As my Royal Shakespeare Company actor friend pointed out “Shakespeare is for all time – his plays are a blank canvas – producers can do anything, and the play will still survive.”
I firmly believe that Cooper’s production did exactly what the Bard would have applauded by giving this modern-day version a new, thought-provoking twist that left an entranced audience with a new “Kiss Me Kate” Shrew-view!