Abigail Bailey Maupin & Gregory Maupin in The Taming of the Shrew.
Photo: Holly Stone
The Taming of the Shrew
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Amy Attaway
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2015 by Kate Barry, all rights reserved.
Louisville is fortunate to welcome back Kentucky Shakespeare Festival after its triumphant season in 2014. Last night, I was part of a small audience who braved the elements to see the second show of the summer, The Taming of the Shrew. Though the crowd was small and raindrops were scattered throughout the performance, this show is worth watching no matter what the conditions may be.
The plot is presented as a play within a play: Sly (Jon Patrick O’Brien) is a drunken tinker who watches a play performed by traveling players. Baptista (Dathan Hooper) is a rich man with two daughters: fair Bianca (Sarah Jo Provost) and shrewish Kate (Abigail Bailey Maupin). Bianca is not allowed by their father to be wed until Kate finds a worthy suitor. Enter Petruchio (Gregory Maupin) to woo Kate, and hilarity ensues. While this show highlights the relationship between Petruchio and Kate, this production focuses on mistaken identities and, as director Amy Attaway mentions in her Director’s Notes, this is “…a story about disguises.”
This Commedia dell’arte inspired take on Shakespeare’s classic play has enough bawdiness and cheese to rival any modern-day romantic comedy. Each performer within the troupe of players makes strong choices in physicality and vocal work that completely reforms what might otherwise have remained common archetypes. Provost’s Bianca flutters around like a Disney princess, while Darnell Pierre Benjamin contorts his posture and legs to match Hortentio’s tightly wound personality. Zachary Burrell as the lovesick Lucentio is adorably silly, while Neill Robertson’s Tranio revels in his temporary role of power a little too much, and with great timing. Megan Massie as Biondello scurries around the stage in her Pierrot-inspired floppy sleeves and hat, while Tony Milder slowly scoots with bent leg to further emphasize Grumio’s elderly age.
As I sat in the audience before the show, I overheard fellow patrons chatting about Gregory and Abigail Bailey Maupin with great anticipation. The Maupins were nothing short of brilliant as the bickering couple. As Kate, Ms. Maupin is a shrill, mean dynamo that isn’t afraid of throwing an apple or tying up her sister. Within her marriage to Petruchio, Ms. Maupin holds on to Kate’s ferocity even as she succumbs to marital obedience. Mr. Maupin is a treat as Petruchio. Always prepared with a retort to Kate’s insult and clever enough to “kill her with kindness,” Maupin makes Petruchio a worthy opponent to the shrewish character. The Maupins’ undeniable chemistry makes for a deliciously explosive battle of words as well as one fiery passionate kiss in the second act.
Weather forced Thursday’s preview night to be cancelled. Friday’s performance lacked the food trucks and pre-show entertainment, but included a brief rain interruption at the start of Act Two. Regardless, this Taming of the Shrew is a flawless night of comedy.
The Taming of the Shrew
June 18-July 25, 2015
8:00PM Nightly Free Show; 7:15 pre-show
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival
In Central Park
[box_light]Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for Leo Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading![/box_light]