Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free For Fall performance of “The Taming of the Shrew” is fantastically fresh and downright funny. It would be a must see even if it wasn't free.
The modern interpretation of Shakespeare's tale of the battle of sexes that Director David Muse offers audiences is nothing short of brilliant. The set itself features a revolving door flanked by glass windows that provide the effect of mirrors in a carnival’s fun house; a billboard showcasing a woman’s swimsuit-clad bottom towers over the glass set; men dressed in Italian suits bogart the stage; and the bonnie Bianca outfitted as if she just came from a J. Crew shoot all bring a chic and playful element to one of Shakespeare’s most loved comedies.
Yet even with the fresh and contemporary touches, the story maintains its Shakespearean integrity, themes and humor. Shakespeare novices, fans and scholars will be pleased with how the old dramatic dialogue is blended so richly with the modern setting, creating an even more accessible tale for audiences of all ages. In fact there were many youngsters in the crowd at the August 29, 2009 matinee performance. I brought my seven-year-old son with me to see the play and he laughed harder than anyone. And while I was conscious of some of the bawdy Elizabethan banter (and gestures) that the director did not shy away from, overall, my son was not. It was the perfect play for a first time Shakespeare experience.
Sabrina LeBeauf, whom some of you may remember from the Cosby Show, does an outstanding job playing the shrew turned obedient wife Katherina while Ian Merrill Peakes takes on the role of Petruchio and plays it perfectly with snarky wit and charismatic charm. Other performances of note are those of Aubrey Deeker as Hortensio and Luis Butelli as Grumio. Both actors play their characters with comedic skill that keeps the audience laughing to the end.
Performances of "The Taming of the Shrew" run from August 27, 2009 – September 12, 2009, please visit http://www.shakespearetheatre.org for dates and show times. The run time is approximately 2 and a half hours, including intermission. Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW (Metro: Gallery Place). 202-547-1122, 877-487-8849. Free tickets (limit of two per person) are available two hours before each performance.