Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Taming of The Shrew"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"The Taming of The Shrew"

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Lisa Wolpe

Fight Choreography by Corinna May
Scenic Design by Laura McPherson
Lighting Design by Charles Foster
Costume Design by Arthur Oliver
Costume Assistant Henry Johnson
Choreography by Sarah Hickler
Sound Design by Katherine Mencke
Props by Jessica Sonnenschein
Jewelry Design by Jen Parrish
Production Manager Dana knox
Stage Manager Kara-Lynn Vaeni

Bianca.....................................Rose Carlson
Biondello.........................Eliza Rose Fichter
Grumio...................................Toni Freeland
Gremio.............................Anne S. Gardiner
Hortensio...............................Anne Gottlieb
Tranio.......................................Dawn Jenks
Kate.......................................Paula Langton
Steven Sly/Vincentio/Curtis.......Mikki Lipsey
Baptista........................................Jean Liuzzi
Petruchio......................................Lisa Porter
Soldier/Pedant/Widow/Tailor.......Jean Sheikh
Lucentio.....................................Patty Spahn

At long last Boston's "Theatre District" has a hit everyone should see! It's not at The Wang, not at the Shubert, Not at Ye Wilbur, the Colonial, the Majestic. It's a booming, brawling, bouncy new play called "The Taming of The Shrew" by some old British bloke, and every single man on the Tremont Theatre stage is played by a woman! Our own Boston Theatre Works imported Director Lisa Wolpe --- Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company --- to show us how it should be done, and she and her excellent cast have created the best "Shrew" I have ever seen.

The stentorian pair of crossed lovers here are Boston's Paula Langton as curs't Kate and Los Angeles' Lisa Anne Porter as her self-assured Petruchio. Their first boiling, roiling confrontation is a tumultuous tumble of tongues, and legs, across a battlefield bed, but the course of their true love runs --- eventually! --- smooth. Their grudging, growing respect for one another is delicately traced, and believable at every brash or nuanced note.

Director Wolpe uses every inch of the Tremont Theatre stage, even spilling the action off the apron and into the audience once or twice, and using a couple costume-racks on castors for doorways, hidie-holes and upper-story windows. Her command of the stage and cast is expert and illuminating every step of the way. She has even managed, somehow, to capture the music of Shakespeare's speech while making the sense of every line clear.

A lot of her cast are graduates of Shakespeare & Company, and Paula Langton teaches breathing and improv at B.U., so even at a fever pitch they serve the Bard well. And the cast ranges from Boston's most illustrious 11-year-old actress, Eliza Rose Fichter as a bouncing Biondello, to Mikki Lipsey as bearded old Vincentio, Jean Liuzzi as Kate's exasperated father Baptista, Rose Carlson and Patty Spahn as Bianca and Lucentio, Anne Gottlieb and Jean Sheikh as hot Hortensio and his widow-wife. Dawn Jenks is the clever Tranio, and Antonia Freeland the comic Grumio, and Anne S. Gardiner is the old suitor Gremio. Mustaches are painted on, beards pasted on, five-o'clock-shadow stippled to a cheek or two, but there are no "pants-parts" here. Their parts devour the players so there is never a clever sexual illusion here. They are what they say they are, however they may dress backstage.

The sheer energy and gusto onstage is immediately infectious, and everyone flings themselves across the stage in cheerful rage and witty riposte. This is a production involving two costumers, a jewelry designer, a choreographer and a fight choreographer all of whose work, like the playing of the cast, merges into a unified, hilarious whole. Boston's Theatre District is blessed by their presence.

Love,
===Anon.


"The Taming of the Shrew" (till 25 February)
BOSTON THEATRE WORKS
Tremont Theater, 276 Tremont Street, BOSTON
(617) 824-8000


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