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The Taming of the Shrew

MITCH LILLIE
7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays and some Wednesdays; 2 pm Sundays through Aug. 4., Wednesday July 24 | $20-$30.
Artists Repertory Theatre
1515 SW Morrison St.
 
Wild women need to be tamed by their husbands. Whether or not Shakespeare wrote The Taming of the Shrew as a prescription, his comedy holds this misogynistic thesis as proven fact. In the 21st century, though, the play can be taken only as farce, which is precisely how Portland Shakespeare Project treats it in this production directed by Michael Mendelson. As if the cast’s well-timed winks and intentional overplaying weren’t enough, sarcasm drips from every line: It’s feminist comedy at its most hilarious. Katherina (Maureen Porter) is the eponymous shrew, the shrieking, icy elder sister of Bianca (Foss Curtis), who has two suitors but cannot marry until Katherina has found a husband. Taming is actually an extended frame tale, with a poor, drunken man being tricked into believing he’s a lord. This is how the production opens, with Matthew Kerrigan in drag as the new lord’s wife, making flamboyant remarks as he takes iPhone photos of the passed-out peasant and intermittently implores his play-husband to “shutteth the hell up.” The arrival of Hortensio (an unmistakably Belushi-like Sam Dinkowitz), one of Bianca’s suitors, continues the uncouth comic relief. Part Italian slimeball and part prodigal frat boy, Dinkowitz won’t say Bianca’s name unless it’s sung as if in a pop song, and his affected lisp alone could carry a standup routine. The supporting cast steals many moments, but it’s the polished performances and feminist touches of the leads, especially Porter, that give Taming its political depth and make it such a successful production. Letting all the venom drain out of her voice, Porter intones with a narrow brow, “I’m ashamed that women are so simple.”

Where: Artists Repertory Theatre
Phone: 241-1278
Address: 1515 SW Morrison St.
Website: http://portlandshakes.org/the-taming-of-the-shrew/

 
 
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