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Taming of the Shrew 

An attempt at a hip interpretation of a classic becomes a goofy parody

Wednesday, Oct 4 2006
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The African-American Shakespeare Company's production of the Bard's tale depicting the battle between a husband and wife for the marital upper hand can't be faulted for making bold production choices. Instead of traditional Elizabethan settings and garb, director Victoria Evans-Erville opts for a '70s Funkadelic/Blaxploitation/Good Times vibe. That means plenty of afros, polyester, and bell bottoms colored every hue of the DayGlo rainbow. Apparently Evans-Erville took the Shrew's phrase "irreverent robes" seriously. While updating Shakespeare to modern, relevant, and even fun locales sounds great, this production has so much fun that it seems almost mocking, showing little regard for the original writing and language. Traditional lines get contemporary additions such as "Très cool," "You dig?," and "Here's the skinny." The musical interludes — featuring actors busting out into versions of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye hits — might have been brilliant had they been sung and not badly lip-synched. Actors David Moore (Petruchio) and Tonia Usher (Kate) generate some nice friction in the famous seduction scene as they tango to the iambic pentameter beat, and Federico Edwards (Gremio) turns in an enjoyably bizarre, bug-eyed performance reminiscent of Don Knotts, but many of the others fumble the language. In the end, this attempt at a clever, hip interpretation of a classic becomes a goofy parody. — Nathaniel Eaton

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Nathaniel Eaton

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