The CAST team Johannes Hjorth

A summer of runs in schools around the States has resulted in the cast and crew perfecting the performance for their opening night in Cambridge. Well-crafted for any audience, on either side of the pond, this Shakespearean comedy is heavy on the comedy and light on the misogyny, allowing for a very enjoyable viewing experience as we watch Lucentio try to win his Bianca: with the caveat that, first of all, her feisty sister must attract a suitor as well. Opening with the drunken Sly, the set is minimal throughout, directing attention towards the actors and their impressively visual performances, which aid in making the language accessible to audiences of all experience levels.

Familiar ADC actors grace the stage, but in the roles of unfamiliar and varied characters. A very laudable attempt is made at differentiating between the many suitors of Bianca and their helpers, who all at times seem to be in some disguise or another. The use of costume to reflect personality traits was backed up by the commitment and consistency of the actors as they stayed in character; Toby Marlow successfully pulls off loud and high-heeled attire, staying true to Petruchio's provoking ways, and Kate Reid's Katherine prowls the stage in punky boots and leather jacket, adding to her feline fierceness. These two together have a chemistry that presents them both as equals, proving that in performance Shakespeare's comedy isn't necessarily as misogynistic as it might appear on the page. Indeed, the incorporation of modern music which emphasised women's rights in its lyrics only added to this effect.

Other mentions must go to Aoife Kennan, Will Peck, and Robbie Taylor Hunt, who portray Tranio, Grumio, and Hortensio, respectively, as well as a vast array of others. They tackle the varying types of humour this play requires with a confidence that never fails to get the audience engaged. The character of Tranio is the unsung hero of the whole production - she pulls all the strings together neatly, allowing all to be happy, or at least somewhat contented. This gender swap, as well as that of Baptista, worked incredibly well, and is only one of Kennedy Bloomer's many good directing decisions, as it allowed the male and female balance to keep the comedy equally spread out.

A must-see for fans and a recommended viewing for those unfamiliar with either just the play or Shakespeare as a whole: prepared for months, this production is polished and perfected.

The Taming of the Shrew is running on Wednesday 7th - Saturday 10th October 2015 at 7.45pm at the ADC Theatre. 

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