Courtin' at the OK Corral
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW by William Shakespeare (Stratford). Festival Theatre, Stratford. Runs in rep to November 1. $39.40-$94.47. 1-800-567-1600. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
for all its comedy, the taming of The Shrew is a tricky play to pull off. Katherina's final speech of deference to her husband can easily seem brutal and misogynistic. Director Miles Potter tries a new tack, translating the action to frontier territory - Padua City, and on Petruchio's ranch - and giving it a spaghetti western feel. Because he's consistent with the approach, the wildness of the setting gives licence to the gun-toting boisterousness of the humour and an amusing edge even to Kate's metamorphosis.
With an actor as skilled as Seana McKenna , of course, there's even more going on. Her Katherina dreams of love before the first words are spoken onstage, so her finding a mate in Petruchio ( Graham Abbey , with echoes of a serape-clad, cigar-smoking Clint Eastwood) isn't too surprising.
Yet despite all the preparation for the growing tenderness and understanding between Kate and Petruchio, McKenna doesn't pull off Kate's final speech; it can't work these days without at least a hint of irony in it.
Most of the time, though, the show is delightfully, if broadly, entertaining, with fine comic work by Jonathan Goad as Petruchio's servant Tranio (here a Mexican peon who's sometimes smarter than his master), Deborah Hay as Kate's squeaky-voiced sister Bianca and Donald Carrier and Brad Rudy as Bianca's outwitted suitors.