Above the Arts Theatre, London – until 1 May 2016
Everything is switched around in this clever production of Shakespeare’s play, which puts the women in charge and the men needing to be tamed…
Playing as part of the new Verve Festival at Above the Arts Theatre, Theatre company Custom/Practise twists genders and roles in this fascinating and hilarious production – which shows what would have happened if Shakespeare had put women in charge.
By changing the concept of the play around, it means that audiences are given a chance to gain a new perspective of the original characters and their behaviour throughout the play, while breathing new life into the play.
It is clear from the moment that the cast burst onto the stage, that there is great passion and enjoyment to be had in taking part in the production. This in turn rubs off onto the audience who also feel this infectious enjoyment and really get involved with what is happening from the earliest stages of the play.
Every line in the play is delivered with energy and makes the most of the comedy that makes it a delight to watch. In terms of the staging, there is plenty of physical comedy that works well alongside the script – even if at times it comes across as slightly too chaotic and over the top, particularly during the wedding scene just before the interval.
By swapping the genders of the characters, each of the cast are able to put their own unique style of how they interpret the personalities, adding a sense of vulnerability and softness to the characters that perhaps hasn’t been seen before.
The story is delivered well, even if at times it feels the pace is slowed down in some of the scenes – particularly at the climax of the play.
While there have been other gender-swapping interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays, this one is effective in showing how by doing so challenges the ideas of typical stereotypes of what it means to be a man or a woman.
The Taming of the Shrew appears at the Arts Theatre until the 1st may, as part of the Verve Festival. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/the-taming-of-the-shrew/.