Shakespeare Company's ''Taming of The Shrew,'' retitled
''Ruff Love,'' dilutes the anti-feminist message by turning
Baptista, the girls' father, into the girls mother (ably
played by Mary Lou Kylis), but otherwise leaving
Shakespeare's comedy for the most part intact.
There are no
bells and whistles here, but with little else besides a
wood-paneled stage and elegant Elizabethan attire, director
Deborah Wright Houston creates the intimate atmosphere of a
luxurious residence in Padua.
is the lusty lover, Petruchio, who meets his match in the
earthy and exuberant Katherine (the saucy Rachel Alt).
Cotton Wright plays Bianca as a smug and sly coquette who
thoroughly enjoys her privileged position in the family. The
contrast between the two young girls makes perfectly clear
the limited choices available to women at that time and how
noble is Katherine's revolt.
stages a number of scenes behind closed doors, suggesting
what's going on by the noise and the objects thrown onstage.
She also compensates for the small stage by using the entire
theater space. In this way she engages the audience and
challenges everyone to use imagination to fill in the gaps.
But what really
makes this production work is the obvious attraction Kate
has for Petruchio. When she submits to him it is more out of
love than defeat. Nevertheless even though Kate says, ''Thy
husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper'' at the end of
the play, one suspects Petruchio's life with his wife will
be pleasant, but it probably won't be peaceful.
At the end of this season,
Houston will be retiring as artistic director of Kings
County Shakespeare. She is certainly leaving in a theatrical
blaze of glory.