01 June 2010

Taming of the Shrew @ Chicago Shakespeare Theater

I had some trepidation about this show, since learning that new material for a "frame" had been written by playwright Neil LaBute.  While I have not seen his plays, I know them by reputation--they're famous for their nastiness, particularly in terms of relations between the sexes.

But in fact the frame story works beautifully: a contemporary company putting on The Taming of the Shrew features a female star who is bridling against the personal and artistic control of the director, who is also her lover. This conflict provides a terrific counterpoint to Shakespeare's drama of control (or taming); the conclusion is both startling and perfect.

It is wonderful when you go to see a play you think you know very well (after all, the story of the shrew transformed by forceful love into obedient beauty is told and retold throughout our culture) and wind up enthralled, surprised, and thrilled by new discoveries.  The performances were all terrific--and it was great to recognize some of the actors from other wonderful productions we had seen--but they did not draw attention to themselves so much as to the material. 

We walked out pondering, and we continue to ponder.

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