By William Shakespeare
Directed by Andrew Hilton
Company SATTF (Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory)
Venue: Tobacco Factory
Date: Thursday 28th February 2008
This was our first time at the Tobacco Factory, and our first for seeing this particular theatre group, so we didn’t have too many expectations. The seats were pretty basic; standard folding chairs, but with really comfy cushions, and the auditorium itself was equally basic. There were seats on all sides, and in the middle a partly tiled floor, with pillars at each corner. Apart from a long table and some chairs, that were brought on as needed, that was it. No trapdoors, nobody abseiling down ropes from the low ceiling. Just the actors and the text, which made a refreshing change.
What also made a refreshing change was the detail in the performances, especially the way that the actors were willing to take their time with their lines. Leo Wringer as Petruchio, in particular, left some valuable pauses between some of his lines, giving his character thinking time, and an opportunity not only to show that his character is thinking, but also what he’s thinking. Obviously it meant the pace was slower, but with so much to see and enjoy, that wasn’t a problem.
The Christopher Sly subplot was used here, and they added the action of him being slung out again at the end. For the rest, the twists and turns of the plot were all perfectly clear, and the various reactions, especially those of Katherine, came across very well. In this production, she seems to be an intelligent but unhappy woman, who can’t see a role for herself as wife and mother amongst these people. Petruchio offers her a lifeline, though it takes her a while to recognise it as she’s become so accustomed to snarling at everybody. Bianca is a simpering little minx, and quite frankly I’d have been irritated with her as well, but here Kate learns to rise above her immature tantrums and play whatever role she needs to. Her father’s outrageous behaviour in selling his daughters off to the highest bidder was softened here by his evident desire to be kind. Petruchio himself is fairly calm, and slower of speech than most I’ve seen; he considers what to say before saying it, but he is capable of quick response as well. He’s an ideal match for Kate; a dating agency couldn’t have done better. The difference between the couples at the end of the play is clear – Petruchio and Kate are likely to have a happy life together, while the other two couples will spend their time bickering and miserable. Unlike us, as we left the theatre, happy to have seen such a good production.
© 2008 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me