New York City Theater
"Taming of the Shrew"
“Why, there’s a wench!” says Petruchio. And he knows whereof he speaks. For Kate is not only an heiress and a beauty, but she is a fiery rebel who is every bit the match of Petruchio. Their courtship plays out in battle—a kick to the groin, a right to the jaw! It is love at first punch.
Never did we have a more spirited, raunchy “Taming of the Shrew” than The Queen Company’s current production at Walkerspace. This all-woman company, under Rebecca Patterson’s inspired direction, plays fast and loose with the classic, rearranging lines backed with music from every genre--and even deleting whole scenes. But it all works, capturing the very essence of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” Wit and humor mix with low comedy, with such clever touches as using a blow-up plastic doll to simulate the bland Bianca.
It all plays out on a bare stage, with minimal props, at this unpretentious little off-Broadway house. It was never truer that the substance of theater can indeed be an actor, a text, and a bare stage. Centerpiece to the production is Samarra, who plays the strutting, confident, and irrepressible Petruchio. This is the sexiest Petruchio we have ever seen on stage, exuding testosterone with every gesture. Samarra, in fact, gives an amazing trans-gender performance. Carey Urban as Kate proves to be a worthy opponent, matching Petruchio blow for blow and word for word. Hers is a polished performance, with never a false move. Equally noteworthy is Gisele Richardson, who plays the perpetually surprised, shocked father of Kate. In general, the cast members provide solid portrayals, under Patterson’s careful, clean direction. Timing is flawless, and fight scenes (staged by Rachel Scott) are right on target.
A remarkable interpretation of the timeless “Taming of the Shrew.”
-- Irene Backalenick
May 14, 2005