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Taming of the Brew - Fringe World Review

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at:
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One drunk actor, four others, assassinate Shakespeare
Breaking news! Shakespeare and the 16th Century were sexist and to a large extent misogynistic. And probably the play most at fault for this 19th century crime is The Taming of the Shrew, widely regarded as his least approachable from a modern mindset.

This is obvious in this year's Fringe with two shows devoted to its commentary – 10 things I Hate About the Taming of the Shrew and The Taming of the Brew. This last is brought to you by the fine folks that brought you A Midsummer Night's Drink, the Grapevine Theatre Co.

Taming of the Brew, Grapevine Theatre Co, Perth Fringe World 2019
Some of the cast of The Taming of the Brew finding the show highly amusing (Photograph courtesy Grapevine Theatre Co's Facebook)

Shakespeare's plot has been used before – Kiss Me Kate and 10 Things I Hate About You owe quite a lot to The Taming of the Shrew.

The focus of The Grapevine Theatre company is obviously alcohol-fuelled and the five actors that present the thirty-some roles in The Taming of the Shrew do it as improvisation, swapping the roles and costumes between them, interspersed with theatre sports, drinking games and a good deal of undergraduate fun amongst themselves.

For example, Bianca doesn't have many lines, so it's OK for her to be portrayed by a standard lamp – with a nice lacy bra.

As though this wasn't enough before the show starts the rest of the cast ply one cast member with drinks so they, in this case, he, start three sheets in the wind with rather less control than usual.

Let me say I am most certainly not the target audience for this production. I know the original play quite well, have not seen 10 Things I Hate About You and strongly dislike self-indulgent amateurism in theatre. I like to hear the actors' dialogue and feel that if you're going to charge $29 for a ticket you should offer something more than drunken undergraduates making each other laugh.

However, the audience at the opening night at The Loungeroom at The Moon, a marvellous venue, seemed to appreciate it. Spinning the wheel to determine what accent one actor would use for the rest of the play brought howls of laughter, followed by comic slapstick involving the props, more drinks and the occasional aside to tell us how funny it all is, along with commentary about the more than four hundred year old mores.

I certainly didn't care for it, but you might well enjoy it – decide for yourself. It runs at the new venue, Studio Startup Basement, Grand Lane, 143 Barrack Street, Perth until the 26th January.

If you like this company's work they have several other shows in the Fringe – a repeat of A Midsummer Night's Drink, A Trois and Strung.

Not really recommended.

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Why? Shakespeare for the Drunk
When: Various
Where: Studio Startup Basement, Grand Lane, 143 Barrack Street, Perth
Cost: $29
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