“The Taming of the Shrew” as a screwball comedy for our times?
Well, why not? Shakespeare’s characters and themes often transcend their eras and locales. New Swan Theater’s droll, looney take on the battle of the sexes reinforces the Bard’s universality.
Director Beth Lopes’ staging is a mirthful melange of matrimonial mayhem and her cast an enjoyably silly collection of goofballs. Lopes imparts a lightly bawdy and suggestive tone and style, a fun, funky-loose ambience and a decidedly ’80s edge, free of spiky satire and with a minimum of harsh slapstick, delivering the familiar tale in a light, whimsical manner.
In Lopes’ vision, Petruchio (Ryan Imhoff) is a punk rocker rebelling against the conformity of ’80s society – and, specifically, of its rock ’n’ roll.
During and between scenes, music and sound designers Mark Caspary and Matt Glenn give us great rock music and riffs – edgy ’70s punk and, in contrast, more benign post-’70s/early ’80s pop along the lines of Duran Duran.
Kathryn Wilson’s costumes work with both sides of the same coin – the softness and comfort that comes with tremendous wealth and, in contrast, the grit and grunge of punk rock devotees.
Light comedic bits abound, as when a character zooms onto the stage on rollerblades, or when Petruchio observes a scene from the sidelines, lying on his back in the aisle, enjoying a smoke – then, later, offhandedly extinguishing the cig on his tongue.
Just as his Petruchio makes a grand entrance to his own wedding like a wild, Bohemian rocker bounding onto the concert stage, Imhoff commands the New Swan stage, bringing a big, vigorous physicality to his scruffy, wild-eyed,…