We just returned from our annual trek to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.
They’re dumbing down Will. In an effort to appeal to a younger generation, this year they’re serving up The Taming of the Shrew in a boardwalk setting with the cast in 50’s diner costumes and a live band on stage.
Petruchio, wearing Elvis hair and Country-Western garb, struts and swaggers his way into Kate’s life, with the help of her father, and begins to deconstruct her until she’s a pliable and submissive bride.
His tactics? Starvation and sleep deprivation.
Okay, it was the way Will wrote it, so nothing new here.
Underneath the tantrums, Kate sees the shallow lives around her. She’s smart, quick witted, capable. She isn’t going to settle for stupid. But there isn’t a man worthy of her. The suitors that come courting are besotted with Bianca, Kate’s sister, who personifies a beauty as airy as meringue.
In contrast, Kate is a ferocious woman. No doubt prompted by her father’s lack of affection because he too favors his younger daughter. Nobody that comes to woo Bianca is Kate’s type. She would squash them like bugs. What Kate needs is a man, not a limp fashionista.
Petruchio rises to the challenge. He is confident and determined. He takes Kate to be his wife and disciplines her so she grows up to be the woman she is meant to be.
It’s an interesting story for today’s young audiences who have been brought up on reality TV with all its raw vulgarities and blurring of the sexes.
Traditional values between a man and a woman still play well.
Deep down we resonate with it whether we admit or not.