The 2003 ‘Regime Change’ season at Shakespeare’s Globe saw the theatre belatedly extend its original practices experiments – which had included a number of productions with all-male casts – to a single-sex, women-led company, performing Richard III and The Taming of the Shrew in repertory. Phyllida Lloyd joined the project late in the day after Barry Kyle left the production, and the result (as seen on the archive video at Shakespeare’s Globe) is a joyful, comic, and playfully satirical take on the play that celebrates the bodies and improvisatory skill of the company’s women.City Classified Women Flat Sandals Ankle Strap Buckled Thongs Cut Out TAKEMEAmoonyFashion Women's Solid Imitated Suede Buckle Open-Toe Sandals, BUTLT006467.1TO9 Womens Spikes Stilettos Platform Peep Toes Low-Cut Uppers Suede Pumps shoes MMS03177AN Womens Chunky Heels Bead Fabric Rain Boots DKU02406.
For Lloyd’s company, men are a species unto themselves. Even rival suitors Hortensio (Yolanda Vazquez) and Gremio (Penelope Dimind) slap one another’s backs and share mutually reinforcing shouts and grunts. Petruchio, when he emerges in the imposing six-foot form of Janet McTeer, AmoonyFashion Women's Soft Material Kitten-Heels Lace-up Square Closed Toe Pumps-shoesAmoonyFashion Women's Nappa Peep Toe Spikes Stilettos Pull On Assorted color Slippersis the most alpha of the males, embodying a slightly swaggering but entirely self-possessed confidence that brooks no argument.
This commedia-inflected production plays the Shrew fairly straight, for laughs, and without the induction that might give it an ironic frame. Instead, any critique and irony comes from within the performances themselves, as the company allow the play to be a comedy but allow that comedy to push to uncomfortable places. Kathryn Hunter’s Katherina is a spoiled woman-child, stamping her feet and shouting wordlessly when she doesn’t get her way,1TO9 Womens Comfort Solid Travel Urethane Boots MNS03014Calaier Womens CAOF Pointed-Toe 8.5CM Stiletto Slip-on Pumps shoes and in the early scenes Petruchio brilliantly turns this against her when informing the other men that they have agreed she will do this – when she stamps, the men clap and cheer her; when she shouts, they turn it into a huzzah, depriving her of her best weapons. Her abuse of her sister Bianca (Laura Rogers) is thorough and quite violent, but this comes from justifiable resentment at the clear favouritism of her father Baptista (Anna Healy). Katherina has undeniable problems, but watching her passed over by her father and gaslit by her wooer is still hard to watch.
During the second half, at Petruchio’s house, the strategies are very clear and centred around food. In a clever move, Lloyd brings onstage Petruchio’s spaniel Troilus, an actor in a dog costume, who takes an immediate dislike to Katherina; Katherina tries to flee from the dog, AN Womens Chunky Heels Pointed-Toe Bead Imitated Suede Boots DKU02411AN Womens Heighten Inside Assorted colors Imitated Suede Boots DKU02355then beats it with a broom, leaving it whimpering away to get the sympathy of the servants. Later, Katherina sneaks up to the dog while it and Grumio sleep to steal its bone1TO9 Womens Bucket-Style Solid Nubuck Urethane Boots MNS03040,AmoonyFashion Women's Round Closed Toe Kitten-Heels Soft Material Solid Buckle Pumps-shoesAmoonyFashion Girls Closed Round Toe Low Heels PU Frosted Solid Boots with Platform and Square Heels, Brown, 10 B(M) US her hunger absolutely desperate by this point. Later, as a reward, Petruchio gives Katherina some food, but then embraces her and coddles her while Hortensio finishes it off. And increasingly it becomes obvious that Petruchio is treating Katherina exactly like his dog, right down to the whistles and shouts of ‘Here’. 1TO9 Womens Bucket-Style Solid Beaded Urethane Boots MNS02982
The comedy of the production is sincere, then, but leads to uncomfortable positions. Hunter’s virtuoso physical skills allow her to be tumbled upside down when she fights against Petruchio, and to be carried around the stage in all kinds of undignified postures;St Patrick's Day Hat Shamrock Beer Rainbow Mens Casual Slip on Canvas Sneakers Low Top Athletic SneakersChocolat blue Women's Malaga Sandal yet the audience’s laughter seems to doubly imply both recognition of her skill and enjoyment of her subjugation. The applause of the audience in the archive video after Katherina comes to Petruchio at his command seems sincere, as it the audience are approving the taming. It’s a microcosm of a production in which men are consistently awful throughout, but always mutually congratulatory.
The standout sequence, though, is Katherina’s final speech. At Petruchio’s command,AN Womens Square Heels Assorted colors Sheepskin Pumps shoes DGU00821 she gives a speech of a few lines, and gets applause and approval from her husband. But then she goes for another few lines, and another, and another. An increasingly anxious Petruchio tries to get her to be quiet, but she begins exaggerating the speech more and more, getting up on the banquet table and flashing her legs, and finally lying down in a mockery of Petruchio,Owaheson Classic Canvas Slip-On Lightweight Driving shoes Soft Penny Loafers Men Women Macedonia FlagOwaheson Classic Canvas Slip-On Lightweight Driving shoes Soft Penny Loafers Men Women German Flag National Emblem before flouncing offstage.HIPPOSEUS Latin Dance shoes for Women Salsa Performance Dancing shoes with Rhinestones High Heel,Model YC-L066 We see a glimpse of them having a fight in Italian, suggesting that Katherina is far from ‘tamed’, and indeed will continue to assert herself against Petruchio indefinitely, even as she learns to play the game of this patriarchal world. It’s a quiet reclamation of the play, but a potent one.