“The Taming of the Shrew” is a familiar story to almost everyone: One man, Petruchio, bets two friends that he can woo the notoriously short-tempered Kate, and though they fight bitterly in the beginning, they eventually gain each other’s respect and fall in love.
In a typical production of the Shakespearean romantic comedy, Kate and Petruchio are meant to be foolish, immature and bullheaded—in other words, they’re meant to be young. But director Caprice Woosley has a different idea for this “Shrew,” one that tempers the taming, subtracts much of the shrewishness and gives the two leads a few more years of life experience.
Taming of the Shrew has always been thought of as a misogynist play, one in which Petruchio intends to subvert Kate's will and curb her shrewish temper in order to become a proper wife. Yet many forget that the play is slightly framed by the erasable character of Christopher Sly, Shakepeare's artistic creation to employ his trick of a play within a play in order to speak to a truth in society. Shakespeare offers up a mix of sit-com and reality tv with pranks, disguises, and confrontations.
Sly is a drunk and becomes the butt of a Lord's joke, that is to convince Sly he himself is a Lord with fine things and a fine wife. The joke is at Sly's expense simply for the pleasure of the Lord. The Lord employs a group of actors to help him pull off the joke in front of his friends. Part of the joke is subjecting Sly to watching a play about a man who wants to tame a shrew. Sly even talks back to the actors mid play.
Any of this sound familiar? People with class superiority who play a trick on the common person to make them think they are on the same level. People who comment about a theatrical experience or talk back during one? Do we even need to bring up the disrespect of women by power players in our culture today?
Taming of the Shrew allows us to examine ourselves against the times that we live in. Issues of gender and class and trickery and deceit fill the news every day. Shakespeare allows his characters to speak to the ills of the land in a way that helps us listen instead of react. It is masked in comedy, so we laugh, and let the laughter open us up to the lesson to be learned.
Taming of the Shrew is like an episode of Saturday Night Live, lampooning many topical subjects that are still relevant today like women's rights, male dominated world views, class struggles, and even a bit of The Bachelor, with three men vying for one Bachelorette. So Kate or Bianca...who will get the final rose?