Last night, the Victoria College Drama Society drew up the curtains of the Bader Theatre and invited the audience with open arms into the warm, glowing city of Padua for their run of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Complete with a compelling cast, the gender-reversed production of the notoriously misogynistic classic was far from tame and lit up the stage effortlessly from start to finish.
The giddy dialogue between Lucentia and her jovial servant, Trania, offered an interesting dynamic within female relationships. Despite their differing status, Lucentia and Trania act like best friends: they scheme, plot, and giggle at the thought of Bianco, the soft-spoken, ballet slipper wearing man of Lucentia’s affections. The ladies are in full-throttle to win over the hearts of their beloved. This can be characterized succinctly with Hortensia’s candidly eager ‘I want you now’ look while mischievously twirling her hair, as if teasing Bianco was a recurring motif. Lucentia is no different, yet her beguiling ways lie in her more innocent and genuine gaze.
Much like his original female counterpart, the shrewd and boisterous Kaylerino doesn’t make it any easier for Petruchia’s advances. Despite being armed with bold strides, temper fits and tempestuous personality, he proves to be no match for her schemes. Perhaps the most refreshing element of their chemistry was the paradox between Petruchia’s sensuality and vulnerability played against her outlandish bravado; her assertion of feminine dominance is more than enough to maintain her stance as the more powerful one.
For more comic relief, enter the pudgy, hunched, ever-jiggling and adorable Donna Gremia, another suitor of Bianco. Coco Lee plays the pedant, the bumbling, train-wreck mother imposter with a heart of gold. She has good intentions, it’s true. It’s just that she loves her drink and is in the habit of showing off her coconut-shaped bra stuffing.
VCDS’ take on The Taming of the Shrew serves as a glowing reminder of how light-hearted and fun Shakespearean plays can be.