Theatre in Wales

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Girls on Top!

At the Sherman

Sherman Theatre- The Taming of the Shrew , Sherman Theatre , March 5, 2019
At the Sherman by Sherman Theatre- The Taming of the Shrew It was clear we were in a woman’s world right from the start. It was firmly announced over the PA system that all the women members of the audience should enter the auditorium first: thus acquiring all the best seats. The men were sent upstairs.

Again, before the house lights went down, two very dominating lady members of the cast started bullying a ‘member of the audience’ in the front row, he seemed very bewildered. He was even more bewildered when they started to remove his clothes. We quickly learned he was an actor playing the part of Sly. In this production Sly fares far worst than he does in Shakespeare’s play. He is taken away. We later meet him as Katherina, our Kate, to be tamed. It is the very fine acting from every member of the cast that gives great strength to the production. Matt Gavan enters into the part of the troubled Kate with excellent understanding and flair.

Scarlett Brookes as his nemesis, Petruchio also give us a perfectly strong and ‘masterly’ performance.
The exchanges between them get quite terrifying at times. You will have to see writer, Jo Clifford’s wisely written play to find out how it all ends. Remember this isn’t Shakespeare. Although much of the dialogue does capture his rhythms. I feel sure he would have enjoyed being there with us tonight.

Hannah Jarrett-Scott spends much of her time adding atmosphere with her very skilful guitar playing and soul-like singing. This is a joy to listen to itself. But she also enters right into the whole spirit of the events when she becomes Lucentio, mad for Bianca but it gets complicated. François Pandolfo grabs the role of Bianca and sets her spinning.

One of the theatre ushers is called down to the stage to play the part of Bianca. Yes there’s more than a touch of chaos to some of the evenings proceedings.

A trio of bold and strong ‘ladies’ from time to time lead us, chorus like throughout the narrative.
The tattooed Alexandria Riley plays things quietly but with an inner strength. Much bolder, as Tranio she helps to push things forward with Lucentio and Bianca. Clare Cage, another actor with great inner strength and beauty, enters into her roles of both Gremio and Grumio with a touch of thoughtful, light menace. It is in the third member of the trio that we find very firm manliness. Some of us start to feel threatened ourselves when Louise Ludgate addresses us. But she also has that twinkle in her that we get from all her fellow performers.

Maybe Matt Gavan’s Kate does get tamed by Scarlett Brookes’ Petruchio but I’m still not sure. Go along and experience Michael Fentiman’s well-paced and deeply understanding production and Madeleine Girling’s captivating design very well lit by Joseff Fletcher.

The Sherman has produced this play in association with the Tron Theatre, Glasgow and will be presented there from the 20th to the 30th March.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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