Reimagined for the New Wimbledon Studio Theatre stage, Ross McGregor directs ensemble Arrows and Traps Theatre Company in a decadent 1920s inspired production of Taming of the Shrew. Eluded to mainly through costume, elegant beaded dresses and head dresses, Arrows and Traps depict an era of grandeur and fast paced wit.
Christopher Neels aptly named Christopher Sly, shocks and amuses with his drunken man antics, tricking audience members into believing that he has wondered off the streets of Wimbledon, from a very lively pub crawl to find himself immersed in Shakespearean complexity and theatrical culture. A dramatic device employed by Shakespeare to tie the production together, Christopher Sly occasionally startles with his abrupt entrances, due to his character mainly observing the drama unfold with the rest of the audience, but serves as a reminder that all action taking place on stage is only make believe.
As Taming is a show about a play within a play, the convention at first is fun and upbeat, however a difficulty to follow the multitude of characters leaves me feeling disconnected for the first half an hour. Trying to play catch up and assimilate to all of the characters intentions and relationships, I find it hard work to invest in all of the characters envisioned for the stage.
Alexander McMorran‘s grumpy Kajetano and Elizabeth Appleby‘s self assured Petruchia anchor the production with their initial meeting. All of the decorative meetings beforehand, whereby gossip shrouds Kajetano’s so called standoffish temperament quickly vanish as the pair show their true personalities. McMorran’s Kajetano can afford to be a lot feistier though. I leave the first half not loathing his persona as much as I know I should, and this therefore lessens the emotional investment needed for the second half to fall into place.
Samuel Morgan – Grahame‘s musical direction evokes emotion, showcasing the talented cast’s songwriting and musical abilities, however transports audience members back to 2015 rather than keeping with the 1920s theme. McGregor’s production triumphs in it’s comic timing. The Arrows and Traps ensemble revel in slapstick and over exaggerated facial expressions that leave the audience laughing for majority of the evening.
The cast effortlessly welcome Shakespeare’s prose texts and deliver them as though they currently live and breath the Elizabethan text. If you’re looking for a raucous night out at the theatre with plenty of laughs with a setlist of songs to liven up the dramatic mood, then Arrows and Trap’s Taming of the Shrew is for you. 3/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Taming of the Shrew is currently showing at the New Wimbledon Studio until Saturday 20th June. For more information on the production, visit here…