26 September 1999 | GANESHi
This is the best "Shrew" I've ever seen.
This production does for The Shrew what Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet" did for that play: it makes clear the central meaning of the piece. By stripping away the usual thigh-thwacking, twinkle-in-the-eye, campy, vaudevillian action usually associated with this work, wherein the headstrong Katherine is brought into submission by the charming rogue Petruchio, we are able to see clearly what Petruchio's approach is: he shows Katherine her own behavior in reflection. Petruchio is holding up the mirror for her, showing her that she is the prisoner of her own negative emotions. And who would take the time, make the effort to do such work, if they did not care for the person in question? This Katherine and Petruchio are not combatants, they are soul-mates defining their understanding of each other. At their first meeting it is clear that Kate has never had a man of such wit and character endure her raging, out of desire for her; and in the end we see that Katherine is not broken (the famous last speech), but that at last she has stopped thinking only of herself, and gained insight and compassion for others. I've seen a lot of versions of this play (including Burton & Taylor, Julia & Streep, & Singer & Olster), and this is the most adult, the most understanding, the most human. And the funniest.