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Trailer-park Shrew is Shakespeare done right
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Trailer-park Shrew is Shakespeare done right

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Taming of the Shrew
Wooden O Theatre
Through August 2


There seem to be two ways to do Shakespeare: in period costume, the way it was written, or thinking of some creative or cutesy way to present the same play, since it's been done and done and done (most likely) before. Some of the productions that monkey with Shakespeare's context are failures that bring nothing new to the production, but let's focus on the good stuff.

The good stuff, when it's done well, is nothing short of brilliant. It helps you see the same play, same script, same ideas you have seen before, with new insight and new perspective. The good stuff is the Wooden O production of Taming of the Shrew, now playing at a park near you (if you live in Shoreline, Mercer Island or Bonnie Lake between now and August 2).

Aimee Bruneau, a talented director, decided to make this sometimes-tired battle of the sexes set in a trailer park. Petruchio wants to marry a rich girl, and apparently, in this version, just having her own trailer makes her rich enough! A triumph of clear character development is portrayed by Kelly Kitchens as Kate, the shrew. Kitchens makes Kate completely hateful - not just spiteful - so hurt by rejection that she doesn't believe in a good life anymore, and hates everyone. The "turn around" that Kate does in the play, becoming a totally biddable wife who proclaims that all women should bow down before their husbands, is believable by Kitchens because Petruchio is finally the guy, played valiantly by David Quicksall, who sticks with her flames and arrows long enough to finally convince her that he won't leave her. So, her final speech is more like that section of the Bible where it says wives are supposed to love their husbands just like husbands are supposed to love their wives. In other words, it's reciprocal. There is nothing in Kate's capitulation that smacks of subservience. That's just brilliant. What a way to make Shrew relevant in the 21st century!

Other strong supporting cast members include the bitchy prom queen Bianca, played to the hilt by Angela DiMarco, and Kate and Bianca's mother (rather than father) played with trailer trash gusto by Karen Jo Fairbrook. Bianca's attraction to Lucentio is made believable by a nicely understated Brian Claudio Smith, as their story complements but doesn't overtake the "main affair."

A nice choice for Tranio, usually male, was to cast female with Samara Lerman, and then have Tranio clearly in love with her master. If you follow her trajectory, her giving up her master to his love is one of the little heroisms in this version.

K.D. Shill's hysterical trailer trash costumes and Rob Witmer's slyly sarcastic choices of retro '70s music (that's 1970s, that is) make for sweet accompaniments. The comic timing of the show seems to never miss the joke, and sometimes makes a joke where there hadn't been one before. Even in the most sweltering afternoon sun, this production makes weather bearable. Remember, Shakespeare in the Park, including King John and Comedy of Errors by Greenstage, and Richard III, the other production from Wooden O, is free! For park times and locations, go to www.seattleshakespeare.org, and www.greenstage.org.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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