By Joseph Garcia —
The lights fall in the Playhouse between 2nd and 3rd Street, leaving only the stage and the giant “Make Padua Great Again!” sign remaining lit.
The U of L Department of Theatre, the Women’s Center and the Women and Gender Studies program performed and sponsored “The Taming of the Shrew”.
Since this was a performance where a play was within a play, modern characters are performing “The Taming of the Shrew” and the actors were dressed in both modern wear and typical Elizabethan dress.
It’s 1963 when fictional Brightsmart reporters Josh and Matt (Lee Stein and Bailey Story) attempt to convince a drunken, misogynistic Christopher Sly (Alex Gordon) that he is a political strategist for the Republican rally taking place in his hometown of Padua, Penn.
The reporters pay other town members to help put on a performance of “The Taming of the Shrew”.
The play itself starts with Lucentio (Bailey Story) and his secretary Tronia (Lauren Dobbs) encountering the rich Baptista (J. Scott Tatum) as he discusses the terms of marrying off his daughters Katherine (Kayla Ross), and Bianca (Chasidy Moore).
He tells Hortensio (Terry Tocantins) and Gremio (Manuel Viveros), that if they wish to marry his youngest daughter Bianca, they must first find a husband for Katherine and must also find tutors for both his daughters.
Katherine however is known in all of Padua to have a strong, shrewish reputation and refuses to be married.
The term “shrew” is a demeaning term to describe a woman who is assertive, speaks her mind or simply goes against the traditional norms of the time period.
Hortensio seeks the help of an old friend, Petruchio (Lee Stein), a man who has a reputation for taming countless shrews, and who also seeks to find a wealthy wife.
Petruchio agrees to present himself as a potential suitor, while Hortensio goes undercover as a music tutor.
An infatuated Lucentio has Tronia disguise herself as him while he dresses as a scholarly tutor named Cambio to get closer to Bianca.
Throughout the play as Lucentio tries to be chosen as Bianca’s groom, a ruthless Petruchio endeavors to tame Katherine, who he calls Kate against her opposition.
Petruchio eventually is able to marry the unhappy Katherine and when the newly-weds return to Petruchio’s home, Katherine is met with her husband’s three maids to which he treats like animals.
It isn’t long before Katherine herself is treated poorly by being starved and forced to kiss him.
At the wedding reception for her sister Bianca and Lucentio, Katherine is seemingly tamed and follows her husband’s orders while her sister and Hortensio’s new wife refuse to follow their husbands orders.
Baptiste is dumbfounded as to how Petruchio managed to tame Katherine and offers him more money for his troubles.
Katherine then gives a monologue at the end of the play, but doesn’t exactly agrees with what she’s saying and it’s apparent from the actor’s distain.
Which leads Petruchio to go offstage and come back with a copy of the script for “The Taming of the Shrew” and has her read the end of the monologue word-for-word.
When the play is over, everyone returns back to their 1963 selves.
Josh, who had been portraying Petruchio, goes to Christopher Sly and asks what he thought of the play.
Before Sly could answer, the bartender returns and is angry the drunk is still in the bar. Warning of his wife, Sly retorts back how he doesn’t care what his wife says and that he’ll tame her like a shrew too if he has to.
Graphic by Shayla Kerr / The Louisville Cardinal