A frame tale, a story within a story, I love it. Often Shakespeare does this among countless other strategies that draw you in, and I certainly did not see all the magical ways Shakespeare reinvented life scenarios, and humor, combined with the bitter truth that love often offers and Stratford Festival’s Taming of the Shrew was no exception.
The Lunario certainly is a magical place – and this evening seated at a table of young women from France, it didn’t get any better than this. With that flair in the background, and setting the scene for a great evening, and as you witnessed the crowd settling in at the Stratford Festival, you thought you might see a disturbance, and yes, you do – a man in the audience began to hassle or be hassled. The the slight disturbance becomes a ranting about how the Shaw house is actually serving to the wrong crowd, the audience member with two theatre workers stumble on stage, the actor preparing for the play are aghast, all in in disarray and there you are, wondering WHAT the HECK is happening? The actors preparing for Taming of the Shrew plot (after the unruly audience member is knocked out) to revolve a scenario to convince the out cold audience member that he is actually a lord, convince him that he is not insane, and a man dresses up as a woman to be convincingly his wife, (sound familiar?) The play hasn’t even started due to this unruly audience member, and the cast members, are putting on another play before the real play starts – this all was quite awesome – and just went to lengths to show how intricate not only Shakespeare can be, but also members of the Stratford Festival.
Once the intricate and magical music played by the musicians proceeds past the first mini drama that unfolded on stage, the second main drama, The Taming of the Shrew begins, leaving you with still the talented threads of music that made the very first aspect of this production, even before the unruly audience member and his tale, and mockery, began.
This was highly acclaimed on so many points, one strength is just not possible, there were numerous reasons. The participation that the audience was sought out for, perfect every time, from the glances, to pulling a boot of of one of the actors, to the looks that accentuated the sarcastic moments, you are involved no matter where you are sitting in the house.
The INCREDIBLE tension that Deborah Hay brings to the stage, almost gives you a migraine seeing the tension she works through and is able to maintain, BRILLIANT. if there ever was a Cate, it is and was Deborah Hay – from the expressions she pushes out in anger, to he most amazing soliloquy bringing a summation of the play, you are praying to someone in thanks for her being on the stage. She is able to turn a theme of hate, anger, and pain into one of beauty with a tension in the beginning, you ask, no way, how will this happen? it does and then some.
Ben Carlson. Whoa. I mean, not only playing the audience -rowdy Christopher Sly, (I did not KNOW that was HIM!) – and of course, a Petruchio that makes you follow him that much more closely, here is the second frame tale. In real life? – Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay are MARRIED. Can you imagine playing this role on real life, as warring War of the Roses husband and wife,and going home and discussing this ? I can’t – AMAZING. I love they are couple on and off stage, and you wonder, do they sleep soundly after this energy thrown at each other in harms way on stage. I think YES – with a resounding YES!
Every single character in this production can be talked about for paragraphs and pages, the legendary Peter Hutt, mesmerising Sarah Afful, Brad Rudy as Curtis, EVERY SINGLE ACTOR had hilarious moments of involving the audience 100% and the story of dueling competitions for Bianca, and two stories within this main story, frame, frame frame – stories that rely on each other and yet it is all as clear as day thanks to the quality of every single dominant and supporting actor and musician, every single one. The laughter that rises to the top from everyone around us was evident of all this.
When I walked out of the Lunario and the cool wind, the starts above, another amazing night, I realized I had a fame tale of my own. Coming to Mexico was a dream in itself, from songs to movies, of course I had rumors of what Mexico was, and having that idea blown apart, and pleasantly, I still have not gotten over the story within a story that Mexico has added to my life. Many expect just coming to Mexico will change you, it certainly does alot in that process yet seeing the values and freedom Mexico gives you to dream and fulfill those dreams, you realize, Mexico can’t make it wonderful for you, but you need to have the desire and dreams of projects, plans, and creativity to take the encouragement that Mexico gives you, and run with the opportunity to do crazy great things. IF YOU HAVE THE Initiative to take the good with the bad in life, you will see the beauty Mexico offers for you to fulfill many a dream.
Being able to actually converse a bit in French, be surrounded by amazing individuals from France, be in Mexico and experience Spanish and a host of other languages at any one time, it certainly is not the Mexico that was painted to me growing up, and I am thankful for that. It makes Mexico even more magical when you realize the true Mexico all around you. More on this in the next post, but being a part of a magical wedding last week, being asked to help translate scripts from German and Latin to English and opportunities to just BE in Mexico I never imagined – there certainly has been quite a frame tale that intertwines with the intricate, deep, and hysterical scenarios you find in Taming of the Shrew.
I once, when I was in college remember seeing a version of Taming of the Shrew in Pittsburgh, with Mary Robb Jackson, in 1988, an amazingly cool slanted stage that came towards the audience, a news anchor was in this production and this has to be in the 90’s. It never left me. This version of Taming of the Shrew will stick to me just as long, the combination of personal and amazing wrapped up into what Shakespeare can bring to so many is indeed timeless and this production was as well.