Go West Young Shrew

The National Players were at Owens Community College, in Perrysburg Ohio, last night (9/22/2011) performing a wild west interpretation of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. This interested me for two reasons firstly because as you may recall I have written papers on The Taming of the Shrew thus making it what the cowboys would call familiar territory. And secondly, if anyone has read “Souls are Wild” (Cross and Cosmos Issue 4) then you know that the Old west is also familiar territory for me.

 Sadly though Shakespeare’s entertaining Induction was cut, it almost always is, and replaced with a verisimilitude inducing prologue which provides the plot in a nut shell for those new to the play. Still it would have been interesting to see the drunk tinker Sly being kick out of a saloon and then getting taken in by a wealthy cattle baron.

 The set design was simple but very effective it consisted of two sets of swinging doors one stage left and the other stage right, the stage right doors decidedly more Saloon looking, and an open doorway center stage. The lumber, looking aged and weathered, was rough cut and gave a very Boomtown impression to the city ofPaduaItaly. I guess that made this a Spaghetti Western.

 The National Players gave a truly rough and tumble performance with comedic sound effects adding emphasis to stage punches and kicks. And in true frontier style extra effort went into making sure that none of Shakespeare’s physical innuendos went over anyone’s head. While, thankfully, the production avoided sprinkling Shakespeare’s words with the old western clichés of ‘taint and I reckon I do have to mention actor Chad Tallon who played Grumio. He managed to maintain a particularly thick “westerny” accent while at the same time speaking clearly and giving wonderfully comedic timing to an already hilarious character.

 Everyone who worked on this production did a great job and deserves praise but I only have so much room. Still, just one more nod. This nod goes to Costume designer Ivania Stack. All of the costumes looked fantastic and, I think, perfect for the time setting but I have to say that I really loved Kate’s coat that she wears in the final Act. It is just stunning and I really want one. Sorry I couldn’t find a picture.

 Unfortunately the there was only one performance at OCC but here’s the link to their web site. If anyone reading this hears about a production coming to your area I hope you’ll mosey on down and take in the show.

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