Review: The Taming of the Shrew

By John Nathan, February 26, 2009
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Novello Theatre, London WC2

Conall Morrison’s RSC production of Shakespeare’s easily most misogynistic play makes no attempt to hide its message. The action moves from a stag night in what could be modern Amsterdam, where Michelle Gomez’s hostess is a bawdy stripper in leather mini-skirt, to Padua, where the courtship between Stephen Boxer’s Petruchio and Gomez’s Katherina amounts to little more than a display of relentless cruelty.

The fact that Boxer is the most diminutive Petruchio I can recall makes narrative sense insofar as this could all be a small man’s fantasy about dominating women. But the result is an evening of joyless theatre in which Boxer’s Petruchio makes up for a lack of wit and charm with punches, slaps and kicks directed not only towards his bride-to-be, but anyone within reach.

I wanted to climb up on stage and beat the hell out of him — an urge in no way impeded by the rare sense that I would probably win the fight. Gomez’s intelligent Katherina acquiesces all too quickly to this Petruchio, her early submission condemning us to an evening of few rewards.

(Tel: 0870 950 0940)

    Last updated: 11:29am, February 26 2009
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