Performances of the Melbourne Shakespeare Theatre Company's The Taming of the Shrew will run from today till 22 December 2019 at The Rose Garden, St Kilda Botanical Gardens, 11 Herbert St (cnr Tennyson & Blessington Streets), St Kilda. Look for the red tent for your entry point. Performance times for this 90 minute show with no interval are from 7pm to 8.30pm on weekdays, with a 2nd extra show on weekends from 2pm to 3.30pm. There are no shows on the Mondays. Get your TICKETS HERE. Tickets are $30 Adults, $25 students and pensioners and $20 for children aged 4-15 years.
Seating is provided for this production, however as it's outdoors, if you're going to the matinee, be sure to slip, slop, slap and dress appropriately for the weather. Bring your sunnies and a hat to ward off the sun, and why not make a day of it and BYO picnic to enjoy. This event is suitable for all ages and you can get the FAQs HERE.
From the get go, this ambitious project is a fun romp in the park. The actors are in costume as they greet you and welcome you to the seating area. Before the production begins, already in character they perform all around you, attracting your attention and curiosity, giving you the 'full' entertainment experience.
Actor Emma Austin - This & Images below - Writers own
Enter Actor/Musician Paul Morris as Sly (a tinker who has been pranked into believing he's a Lord & essentially the troupe of actors who turn up to perform for him makes up the main story of The Taming of the Shrew); who will delightfully entertain you with his vocals and guitar . Before and during the show he does a stellar job of not just performing, but putting a smile on your face with added comedy. Incorporated are familiar, boppy songs you'd want to sing along to, if not shake a leg, including the latest Dance Monkey by Tones And I.
For the particular production I attended (the audience decides at each performance which performer gets to play the Shrew and who gets to play the Tame), John Vizcay-Wilson gets to play the Shrew and Emma Jevons the Tame. You read correctly; it's a man who got to play the Shrew at this event. With the elevated gazebo as the main setting and backdrop for the show, the actors perform in front of you and make use of the garden surrounds as well.
As I attended a matinee, there's no lighting to comment on with the sunshine providing plenty of natural light. The actors do well to project their voices and can be heard clearly, and have great diction throughout the performance. Each one wears a sash with their names on it so you don't get lost in this complicated tale of many characters which was penned by Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592. If you're not completely familiar with the plot, I'd suggest you google the synopsis and familiarise yourself with the names and relationships for a better experience and less confusion.
In a nutshell, the main plot is about the courtship of Petruchia (playing the headstrong shrew on the day) and Katherino. Don't be confused as you read this as the male and female roles are reversed. Petruchia takes on a bet to tame Katerino and wed him as the younger Bianco cannot marry the love of his life till the elder Katerino as tradition dictates, is wed first. Interwoven are subplots, deceptions, identity changes, disguises and more that plump out the plot to its final conclusion.
All the actors endear their characters to you, especially Liliana Dalton who makes you laugh out loud with her particular quirk of mastering the 'how now brown cow' proper enunciation of the English language. Emma Jevons as the Tame is a strong believable performer who is equally matched by John Vizcay-Wilson as they parley with their razor edged tongues. Charlotte Righetti is also outstanding in her performance with good comic timing, as she masquerades as the music tutor.
It's no surprise that the obvious main characters stand out, given the opportunity, but overall, the whole production (cast and crew) is filled with comedy and everyone holds their own. Beautifully choreographed by choreographer John Reed, the foot-stamping, dropping, falling and other shenanigans is perfectly timed for greatest effect. Directed by Jennifer Sarah Dean, Jennifer trained at the Globe Theatre in London with recent credits including Ghost Stories (National Tour), Travesties (45 Downstairs) and The Haunting (Atheneum). She's also the founder of the Melbourne Shakespeare Company and has directed eight productions for them including Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing.
Costume designer Rhiannon Irving is a Sustainability Champion and is a full-time costumier at the Australian Ballet. She's worked with the Melbourne Shakespeare Company for the last 3 years and has this year taken on the role of Sustainability Coordinator for the Company. She's incorporated Melbourne Shakespeare Company's new sustainable practices by making the costumes from upcycled old curtains, doonas, fish-shaped soy sauce containers (necklaces), recycled chip packets and so on. Wanting to shift the expectation that only new and expensive fabrics could create a polished look, she's utilised otherwise disposable items by giving them another life and thus reducing the environmental impact.
Don't miss this production! It's absolutely delightful and a good night out for the whole family. It gets a big thumbs up not just from me but the whole audience from what I could gauge from their reactions and robust laughter. It's a great way to introduce the children to theatre in a casual environment, so bring the whole family. Stay updated via the Facebook page and see the event page for other related events upcoming, as mentioned in the previous promo article and the website eg. the Sustainable Costume Design Workshop and the Stage Combat Workshop, both on the 16th of December.
Dancing couple - Actor/Musician Sarah Krndija & Saxon Gray