Shakespeare at Traquair’s saucy take on The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew - Petruccio and Katherina's wedding. Photo by Anthony Newton.
The Taming of the Shrew - Petruccio and Katherina's wedding. Photo by Anthony Newton.

The talented perfomers of Shakespeare at Traquair have injected a little gypsy fire into their latest production – the already pretty fiery The Taming of the Shrew.

The shrew in question is Katherina, a woman of independant mind, who is brought to a state of unquestioning obedience by a clever and dominant husband.

The play can present some problems, as director Boyd Wild explains: “To modern audiences, The Taming of the Shrew can present a deeply problematical dilemma, which centres on the relationship between Petruccio and Katherina. How is it that a woman who, by current standards, appears perhaps to be a little too forthright and assertive, but not unusually so, submits to the demands of a seemingly domineering and misogynistic suitor?”

But Boyd believes that he has found a good solution.

“Their behaviour can to a greater extent be understood if they just lust after each other. It is an instant and electrically animalistic attraction that transcends both reason and common sense.

“Yes, they are both proud and stubborn and yes neither is going to give way to the other without a battle, but now it becomes much more a battle of equals.

“This approach allows the broad comedy to shine through, whilst simultaneously camouflaging some of the darker and crueller elements of the piece.

“It also allows Petruccio and Katherina to be essentially likeable people, not without their faults, but recognisably, of us.”

As for the gypsy theme: “I think this enables all the passion, colour and hot-headedness that is required and also gives Chris Dubé, our Director of Music, a suitably fervent canvas upon which to compose and adapt his music for the play.

“So there will be music and singing and humour and sauciness and, above all, enjoyment.”

The Taming of the Shrew is on in the grounds of Traquair House, Innerleithen, this Thursday, June 2 till Saturday, June 4, and again from Wednesday, June 8, till Saturday, June 11. Performances start at 7pm.

Tickets, costing £14 (£8 for concessions) are available from the Eastgate Theatre on 01721 725777.