It’s a bit of a departure from the normal waffle I post on here, but we had the pleasure of experiencing the Taming of the Shrew matinee on Saturday and I felt compelled to leave a comment here. It was one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I have seen in a long time. (If you haven’t seen it yet and you are planning to, you might want to stop reading here).
The first act was comedic, irreverent, and fast-paced. The almost slapstick comedy as the main protagonists’ stories fell into place kept the audience entertained and engaged. Each and every performer played their role without flaw and by the interval, the auditorium felt alive with fun and excitement.
The second act, I can only describe as an ambush; an assault on the audience expectations. The manic, fun-filled pace was torn away from us; replaced with something much darker. The reality of the underlying story was laid out inescapably before us. From the stark change in lighting to the haunting soundtrack; the costume change to the almost tortuous change of pace; there could be little mistaking that what was happening on stage was very wrong, and very dark. The aircraft overhead the open roof of the Globe and the sounds of the river traffic on the Thames somehow disappeared; replaced instead by the captivating interactions on-stage, drawing us ever further into the characters’ lives.
As the play ended and we left the theatre, we both felt very moved by what we had seen. We had experienced joy, anger, concern, humour and empathy. We spent the hours of our journey home discussing our interpretations of the play’s resolution: Questioning how far-departed the intent may or may not have been from the original script; attempting to understand the characters’ state of mind in the final scenes; trying to contextualise the play in our society over the many years since its creation. It made us think, and even a few weeks on it still does.
The cast and crew of this performance delivered an astonishing piece of theatre with a superb balance of humour and drama. On-stage, the company looked as if they genuinely loved what they were doing and the near-magical quality of the venue was the perfect place to experience it.
Image taken from the Globe website.