This review by critic Doris Lynch was published in the Bloomington Herald-Times on July 9, 2012. We reprint it here with the kind permission of the paper and editor Bob Zaltsberg.

Shakespeare in sunglasses at Indiana Festival Theatre

By Doris Lynch, H-T Reviewer
July 9, 2012

Give some credit to its Florida location for Jonathan Michaelsen’s sassy, entertaining production of Shakespeare’s comedy “The Taming of the Shrew,” about civilizing a strong-willed woman for 17th century marriage.

Hortensio (Ben Abbott) owns a surf shop; a servant swishes by carrying a frou frou dog in her arms, and Katherina Minola (played with fiery bombast by Molly Casey) climbs a garden trellis and hisses during an opening scene.

But there’s trouble in Padua Paradise. Baptista (Nancy Lipschultz) has two daughters to marry off: Bianca has tons of suitors, but an assaultive sibling Kate has scared or horrified all the men away despite possessing a rich dowry. Not until her older sister finds a husband will Bianca walk down that aisle. Andrea Mellos gives a layered portrayal as the “sweet” daughter who almost conceals her sly, bad-girl selfishness and desire.

Two of Bianca’s hopefuls use subterfuge so they can pursue her at close range. Lucentio (Aaron Densley) plays a philosophy tutor who offers some enticing Ovid on his Kindle, while Hortensio disguises himself as a music tutor. To complicate matters further, a servant jokingly introduces him as a Paris native so Hortensio must quickly switch to a Parisian accent that he delivers with great aplomb.

With verve and fake vitriol, Adam Noble plays returning veteran Petruchio. With few financial prospects, he hears gossip about the harpy Kate. For her dowry’s sake, he’s willing to pit his will against hers.

Friday night, the acting was uniformly high-caliber throughout, but particularly outstanding were Timothy Pyles as Tranio, Lucentio’s servant. His cocky, expansively confident Savannah gentleman impersonating Lucentio was a thrill to watch. Casey and Noble gave especially fine performances. What delicious choreography marked these two anti-bodies moving toward each other, then away, while sparring verbally and battling wits.

Rob Johansen’s stuttering, golf-club wielding, rich old man (who has zero chance with Bianca) was also very good. Finally, Nicole Bruce owned the stage as Grumio, a perturbed and perturbing soldier’s servant whose spitfire energy and quick retorts elicited many laughs. That super-fast, hand-slap scene with the Tailor (Jaysen Wright) was funny.

As befitting a Shakespearean production, everyone enunciated so clearly that the dialogue — although streaming fast and furious at times — was easy to understand.

Standing out among the directorial touches was the fight scene between Kate and Bianca. Did I mention that Bianca has a lusty, competitive side? Another piece of stage magic occurred when the cast, all wearing sunglasses, gathered for Kate’s wedding on the patio, watching the cars zoom by. Would the groom dare be a no-show?

The un-dinner scene was hilarious. A group of pretend-to-be-terrified servants sloppily threw a cloth over the table, added plates and a tureen full of meat. Petruchio, who was employing starvation therapy to break Kate’s will, threw a huge fit about “burnt food” and banned eating for the night.

The contemporary and very Floridian costumes by Jason Orlenko worked well. They included a wedding dress, gowns, military uniforms, golfing attire, and (of course!) Mickey Mouse ears.

Colin Shay’s soundscape with ’60s music added to the resort-like air. The set by Tim Barbiaux with its courtyard fountain and small villa successfully melded an Italian village with Florida, neo-riche architecture.

For Shakespeare that’s snappy and modern, get thee to Florida — I mean, the Wells-Metz.

If you go

WHO: Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama’s Indiana Festival Theatre.

WHAT: “The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. July 15, 17, 19, 21,27; 2 p.m. July 22, 28.

WHERE: Wells-Metz Theater, in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

TICKETS: $15-$25. Available at the IU Auditorium Box Office or online Call 812-855-1103 for details.

Read more on: iu  

Copyright: 2012

About IU Theatre Department

Welcome to the 7th & Jordan blog. This blog is a peek behind the curtain at the productions and people at Indiana University's Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.
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