Review of The Taming of the Shrew
Shakespeare Bulletin 35.4 (2017):700-703 (DOI: 10.1353/shb.2017.0052)
Can we entertain the idea that The Taming of the Shrew can be performed and received as comedy in the post-Women’s March US? If so, would the laughter be empathetic and solidarity rather than callous?
The answer lies in physical theater which is uniquely poised to activate elements of farce in the play. Shrew is one of the Shakespearean comedies that tends to clash with modern sensibilities and is therefore generally considered challenging to stage.
The Synetic Theater’s version reminds us that, after all, the foundation of this play is farce, a play-within-a-play to mock the worldview of Christopher Sly the drunkard and to entertain the impersonated lords who derive voyeuristic pleasure from watching Sly gawking at Shrew. The so-called play-within-a-play could also be a fanciful dream of the inebriated Sly. The Synetic Theater’s ninety-minute dance, musical, and visual feast rendered the comedy in vibrant colors—without spoken words. There was no induction or framing scene, though a fair amount of extratextual material had been introduced.