Review: Taming (of the Shoner)

A couple of weeks back, I checked out the Shakespeare’s Globe on Screen presentation of The Taming of the Shrew.

Shakespeare’s Globe is, of course, the theater company out of London that has built a replica of The Globe and presents plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries in productions that attempt to be as close to the original experience as possible. That means open air, natural lighting, Elizabthen-ish costuming, the groundlings standing, and a jig at the end. They also send some of these productions out on world tours. I caught Love’s Labor’s Lost back in 2009, and I have tickets for the current tour of King Lear later in the month.

For those who’ve been around the last few months, you know how much I loved the Shakespeare’s Globe presentation of As You Like It from 2011 that I found on a library streaming service. Loved it so much that I picked up the DVD. So when I learned that this fall, Globe on Screen was bringing some of Shakespeare’s Globe 2013 presentations to movie houses, I was pretty excited. The only downside was that they weren’t playing anywhere near me, so I would have to drive down to LA to see them. And, by the time I learned of it, Twelfth Night (with its gender-bending performance by Mark Rylance as Olivia) had already run. I was sick the night of Henry V, but I did get to see Taming.

And I was glad I made the drive. The presentation opened outside the theater as patrons made their way into the theater. In the background, you could see some of the local flavor, including what appeared to be a drunk soccer fan acting the ass. He slowly started to become the annoying focus of attention as he pushed his way into the theater, beer can in hand. Once inside with the groundlings, he looked for a restroom, and finding none made his way onstage and began to piss on one of the columns there. He then passed out.

Meet Christopher Sly.

The production included the oft-cut “Induction,” and it was wonderful. Especially as he took his place (with his “wife”) in the groundlings for the beginning of the “play.” When Lucentio and Tranio began to strip to exchange clothes, Sly called out that this was obscene and ran from the theater. Pretty funny.

Funnier still was when we later met Petruchio, and — you guessed it — it’s the same actor who played Sly.

Brilliant. By making Petruchio the stand-in for Sly, all this is a drunkard’s fantasy. It removes some of the queasiness that can accompany the misogynistic elements of the play and Kate’s speech at the end. A very “sly” directorial concept, if you get my drift. But it wasn’t just the direction that was top-notch. The two leads were great with Simon Paisley Day as Sly/Petruchio being wonderfully over-the-top, and Samantha Spiro as the frustrated, much put-upon, angry Kate. Just awesome.

Later this month, Macbeth is coming and at the beginning of December is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Go to to find a venue near you.

Now, normally, I would stop there. But yesterday, Shakespeare’s Globe made an announcement that is a game-changer: They launched … a streaming service for their productions.

Shakespeare's Globe:
Shakespeare’s Globe:

Once they plays appear in cinemas, they will be available to stream, with an already available library filled with comedies, Romeo and Juliet, and all the Henry‘s. Plus, they’ve got support materials for the documentary Muse of Fire, international and free content. Not all of it’s available at the moment (as the fall movie tour isn’t done yet, but still…)

You really need to check it out.

As I noted on Twitter yesterday, I feel like I’m in Pitch Perfect.

I have a Shoner… a Shakespeare boner.

The only thing that could be better is to learn that the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have stepped up their respective games, and are joining the streaming community!

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