Lackham House provides the perfect setting for Shakespeare Live’s upbeat production of the Taming of the Shrew, one of The Bard’s best known comedies.
Under Pat Cannings’ creative direction, the play is updated to the England of 1913 and the headstrong Katherina (now Kate) is a suffragette with Petruccio her arrogant, potential soldier suitor.
Fast-paced and bursting with energy, Shakespeare Live does not disappoint with yet another highly professional offering. From the moment the play opens with the marching, banner-waving suffragettes, we sense we are in for a treat.
Harriet Bridger, as the feisty, never-to-be-tamed Kate, and Chris Constantine, as Petruchio, are simply superb. A perfect pairing, they spar wonderfully and provide comedic moments throughout the play.
Lucy Long, as younger sister Bianca, is also excellent and the competitive sibling rivalry between Bianca and Kate is a joy to watch, with many laugh-out-loud moments. Graham Paton delivers a polished and professional performance as Baptista Minola, portraying Kate’s father with suitable gravitas as befits a man of his social standing.
Rod Moor Bardell is beautifully bawdy as Grumio, Petruchio’s servant, and is a splendid foil to his swaggering, pompous master, while Lucentio (Nic Proud) and Tranio (Ashley Spiers) make a wonderful double act, timing some of the play’s funniest moments to perfection. There are other strong performances from Mike Taylor as Gremio and Colin Jackson as Hortensio.
As an added bonus, the audience is also treated to live music, with Tom Corbishley as the wedding singer, complete with ukelele.
Pat Cannings uses Lackham House and its three-tiered garden to wonderful effect – visually it is a joy. Her production is a glorious, strong, talented ensemble piece, from the non-speaking characters strolling in the background to the main leads enthralling us with their antics in the foreground.
Pack a picnic, chill the Pimms and indulge yourself in a fabulously fun evening!
The play runs until July 11, (including Saturday matinee); tickets from www.shakespearelive.com / 07780 938107.
Review by Jude Bucklow