Encore Michigan

Taming of the Shrew: A “Shrew” in the woods… works

Review July 19, 2015 Anne Kiley

by Tom Emmott

Article:9996; Posted: July 19, 2015 at 1:30 p.m.

What do William Shakespeare and The Beatles have in common? If your answer is that they’re all British–you would be right. But Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre has a different answer. And it’s worth finding out!

“The Taming of the Shrew” is one of Shakespeare’s finest comedies and director Christy Arington and the cast knock this one out of the park. In this case–the woods. The theatre company stages its productions on a bare bones stage where it and the audience are surrounded by trees and a hillside that juts up from the back of the stage craftily designed by Pete Dully.

This particular work of Shakespeare’s offended sentimental critics of the Victorian era. They found it to be a harsh and brutal attitude toward women and not the sort of behavior one would expect from a proper English gentleman. But, today readers and audiences alike see it for what it is–an entertaining farce on an eternal topic–the battle of the sexes.

“The Taming of the Shrew” is no different than many of Shakespeare’s plays when it comes to the art of deception. Characters disguising themselves as other characters. Men pretending to be women and women pretending to be men. The key is that it never gets old because he is such a master of the pen. Or maybe it’s a quill. In either case–his words and characters make all the difference.

The plot is simple. Baptista has 2 daughters, Kate and Bianca. Kate is a shrew and Bianca is mild and gentle. Bianca has many suitors in the form of Lucentio, Gremio and Hortensio. Lucentio, upon seeing Bianca, immediately falls in love with her. Baptista will not allow Bianca to wed until he can find a husband for Kate. Someone who can match her temperament. Enter Petruchio, who want’s to help his friend Hortensio wed Bianca by marrying Katherina. There is also a large dowry at stake and the challenge of taming the shrew. Simple right? Not exactly. This is where we get into the multiple facets of Shakespeare’s characters. You’ll figure it out. It all makes sense in the end.

So let us start with the characters. Lucentio, played by Cole Simon seems much more comfortable in this role than in Thursday night’s production of Cymbeline. His energy and grasp of the character are wonderful. I just wish he would speak a bit slower. Sara Gorsky, as Tranio, also seems more fitted for this role than her Queen in Cymbeline. She too is energetic and has a great flair for comedy. Both are consistent throughout the production. Baptista, played by Steve Herson was funny, and the audience loved him, but I felt that his character was too much like his King in Cymbeline. Elizabeth Laidlaw is the perfect Kate, or Katherina, and Scott Cummins as Petruchio is her perfect foil. One of my favorite scenes from Shrew is when Kate and Petruchio first meet. It is a match of wits and these two actors pull it off to perfection combined with wonderful staging by director Christy Arington and combat moves by Scott Cummins. Ms. Laidlaw is tall and statuesque and has a great command of the stage. Mr. Cummins has a voice like a New York gangster and reminds me of a cross between Jon Stewart, Tom Sizemore and Paul Giamatti. His first entrance will bowl you over. Kelsey Phillips’s Bianca seemed more suited for her as well, than her role as Imogen in Cymbeline. Her facial expressions added much to her character. The cat-fight between her and Kate was well executed with great staging by Fight Director Scott Cummins.

Comedic roles are not necessarily easier than dramatic roles for actors, but Danny Taylor as—well—as everyone—knocked me out. He was Gremio, the Tailor and then came back as a woman. His costumes as the Tailor and the woman are worth the price of admission thanks to Joanna Melville who does and outstanding job as does Raquel Madorno with Cymbeline. They use a mishmash of costumes and make them work well for each character.

Christy Arington makes great use of the stage and the hillside behind it in larger scenes involving the entire company. Also, entrances and exits are well executed thanks to her directing.

Overall, Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre has a hit on their hands due to the talents of amazing acting, wonderful staging and directing and the writing of William Shakespeare.

The opening of the show will knock your socks off!

The setting: A dirt path leading up to the audience and performance space which is surrounded by trees. With a bare bones stage and a wooded hillside behind it–it is the perfect setting for Shakespeare. There are wooden bleacher type seats. Otherwise–bring your own folding chairs and blankets. You can also bring your own food and wine. Non-alcoholic beverages and water are sold on site. There is also food provided by Conundrum Cafe’ from nearby Alberta. They sell food that coincides with words they have picked out of the script. Very creative. Be sure to check out their menu. And be sure to dress according to the weather.

Transportation in the form of golf cart is provided to the top of the hill and the seating area for those who need it.

Tickets: Tickets are free but an in kind donation of $15.00 is suggested.

Taming of the Shrew
Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre
Tank Hill, 418 Park Ave., Frankfort
July 14-24, 2015 (two plays in repertory; all performances at 7:00 p.m.
check website for ticket prices