When asked what “Taming of the Shrew” is all about, Taryn Fixel (Kate) explained that it is a play about being yourself and being heard. In the words of director Megan Marod, “In our attempt to be cool we are untrue to ourselves.” To Marod, this play is about overcoming this trap. Fixel went on to explain Kate as a woman with a voice she wants to have heard, but no one will let her speak out. For this reason, Kate turns to shrewdness to voice her opinions. It seems that Kate is mostly an unkind and bitter person, but at the end of the play we see that she is actually a thoughtful woman looking for acceptance.
Friday through Sunday, the Rude Mechanicals are presenting Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” The play features the acting talents of Fixel, Ian Burkow as Petruchio, Kate Hendricks-Stone as Bianca, and Edmund Alyn Jones as Christopher Sly. In the words of Co-producer Sara Grady, “I think our cast is absolutely amazing.”
While Shakespearian plays are stereotypically set in the Elizabethan era, in their quest to make the play more relevant to the audience, the producers decided to set the play in Little Italy, N.Y., in the early 1950s. The director, Megan Marod, explained that this was an ideal setting, because most people have an idea of what Little Italy was like in the ’50s, thus the story will not seem so detached from reality. Also, at this point in time, women were still supposed to stay at home and be subservient to men. Themes of power, neighborhoods and family, who a woman could marry and who she could not, were a part of everyday life. The intertwining of the mafia undertones and the Shakespearian ideas add depth to the story.
The play itself is a framed tale, or a play within a play. As Megan Marod pointed out, the frame of this particular play is normally left out. The story that people think of when they think of “Taming of the Shrew” is actually the play within the play. It was decided, however, that for this production the frame would add to the play, so it was left in.
It starts off with a drunken man named Christopher Sly being kicked out of a bar. A passing acting troupe finds him and decides to play with his mind, making him think that he is a wealthy and important man. They dress him up as such and then perform a play for him. The play they perform is the story of “The Taming of the Shrew.”
The plot line of the play within the play is a story about a girl named Kate. No one likes her because she is feisty, outspoken and a shrew. She is not a proper young lady. The conflict of the play arises when it is time for Kate to get married. Obviously, no one wants to marry a shrew. However, Petruchio wanders by and he thinks that Kate is a wonderful person. He marries her and makes it his goal to make Kate love him, or to “tame” her. He goes about trying to tame her using extremely non-conventional ways, such as starving her and depriving her of sleep. Despite everything she is forced to endure however, in then end, Kate decides that she truly does love Petruchio.
The story has many more twists, turns and subplots, making it complicated in an enjoyable and often humorous way. In the words of co-producer Sara Grady, “I think it is really funny. I can’t wait to see how the audience reacts.”