Possibly the most untamed version of Shakespeare’s feminist-baiting play you are ever likely to see, and performed by an all-male cast at that.
Before anyone shouting “misogyny” mounts a barricade this Propeller theatre company production shines a light into all the darker corners of the play, illuminating one of the Bard’s most controversial plots and – almost in passing – turns it all back into the riotous comedy it was designed to be.
This is a welcome revival of the Propeller production of 2006, and by including the too-often omitted ‘induction’ at the start of the play suggests it’s all a drunken dream in the first place, so what’s your problem?
With that out of the way, sit back, relax, and lap up the abundant laughs.
Director Edward Hall and his cast turn this Shrew into a riot of physical comedy and a blue heaven of bawdy humour, answering anyone who ever thought Shakespeare was no laughing matter.
The pace of Act One slackens slightly after the interval but that’s only to be expected given it reaches the ritual humiliation of Katherine the Shrew, a bride starved and shamed into submission by Petruchio. But even at that moment this is a production that can never quite resist some Vaudevillian playing to the gallery, or even corpsing when Kate nearly exits through the wrong scenery.
Dan Wheeler plays her as a spitting punk in Doc Martens, and while maybe not shrewish enough for some, he easily transcends any gender issues. Vince Leigh, as Petruchio, adopts more of the look of a Hairy Biker - and a bareback one at the production’s most physically-flamboyant moment.
As usual Propeller manage to make it all look like a lot of effortless fun, while their by-now loyal audiences roar their approval.
It continues to Saturday, in tandem with their equally-recommended Twelfth Night.