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Shakespeare’s ‘Shrew’: all the entertainment without the politics

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At a time when theater patrons look for currently relevant social messages in plays, Troy University Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” provides everything but that. 

The main plot follows the story of Petruchio, played by Noah Williams, and his courtship of Katherina (Kate), a strong-willed woman with anger issues, played by Caitlin Hicks. The subplot involves Katherina’s sister Bianca and her multiple suitors. 

Both Hicks and Williams did justice to Shakespeare’s characters with their portrayal of the characters and their eloquence in delivery. 

Petruchio is portrayed as a fortune seeker and is more than willing to marry “Kate the Shrew.” There is no better portrayal of Katherina’s shrewdness than when she sends her lute instructor who is, in fact, Hortensio in disguise back to her mother with the lute around his neck. 

As the story develops, Petruchio is shown to have similar characteristics as Kate, which leads Hortensio (Paul Roy) to remark “By this reckoning, he is more a shrew than she.”

One challenge for the audience may have been adjusting to Shakespearean English, but the cast made it easier with pronounced dialogue. The delivery speed for some lines could have been slower in parts of the performance, but this was a subjective glitch which in no way took away from the atmosphere of the play. 

Among the supporting cast, Harly Gardner, Sam Hankins and Roy were outstanding in their roles of Grumio, Tranio and Hortensio, respectively.  

The play shows the diversity in talent among Troy’s theater students and gives theater patrons a lot to look forward to as spring productions get underway. The theater department will be doing a rendition of “Mamma Mia” this coming April.  

“The Taming of the Shrew” is controversial today for its depiction of the role of women. A stark example of this is seen in Katherina’s monologue where she tells her sister Bianca and Hortensio’s new wife, the widow, to submit to their husbands as a subject would to a king. 

Kate’s monologue can be taken as ironic for this age, though it is unclear if that is how Shakespeare intended it to be. 

The play nevertheless speaks volumes for understanding the complexities of relationships and the compromise needed to make them work, showing how Petruchio and Katherina come to provide balance for each other. 

Regardless, the play is meant to be understood in the context of the time period it was written for and not a voice for social issues today. 

If you’re expecting a message on societal revolution, you wouldn’t get it watching this play, but if you just went in to enjoy a good Shakespearean play with brilliant acting, it did not disappoint.