Director, not actors, to blame for lackluster 'Shrew'


Even though it's a bit early, let's talk turkey: "The Taming of the Shrew" is the worst production I've ever seen at Las Vegas Academy.

Moments after the show began, I had a fantasy that I was a teacher watching a rehearsal. I stood up and said: "All right, folks, let's take this from the top. And this time, don't try to be funny. Have a light attitude, but stop with the faces, goofy gestures and walking weird." But then I snapped out of it and realized I was, alack, a mere audience member.

It's not the talented cast who's to blame. That responsibility falls squarely on director Melissa Lilly's shoulders. William Shakespeare's script is a squabble of the sexes, with a domineering bounty hunter who's determined to marry a wealthy Padua battle-ax. The dialogue is rich in comedic lines. But Lily doesn't trust it.

What's offensive about this is that Lily hasn't paid enough attention to her job as teacher. There's a performer who plays being drunk, and he obviously has not been shown how to play drunk. Another tries to pretend to be old by walking with a cane and hunching his back. Trouble is, sometimes the hunch is slight, sometimes the back is nearly parallel to the floor, and sometimes the hunch is not there at all. Couldn't someone have helped him be physically consistent? And the famous, final speech delivered by our female lead, Katherine, is spit out like street talk. Was there no one around to help the cast learn to deal with Shakespeare's poetry?

The enormously gifted Ethan Evers, in a very brief role as a frustrated, heavily accented tailor, gives us the only human being onstage. He gets yucks not because of goofy faces, but because he establishes so fine a reality base that we're able to relate to his character's humorous dilemma. I've left out the names of the other actors because they are victims. It's obvious they could do this show just fine if they had someone at the helm who better understood what Shakespearean comedy is all about.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat@aol.com.

 

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