That Hussy Fair Bianca & Beethoven CondensedSunday, June 10, 2012
You lie, in faith; for you are call'd plain Kate,
And bonny Kate and sometimes Kate the curst;
But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom
Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation;
Hearing thy mildness praised in every town,
Thy virtues spoke of, and thy beauty sounded,
Yet not so deeply as to thee belongs,
Myself am moved to woo thee for my wife.
|Christopher Gaze - Richard III|
What, would you make me mad? Am not I Christopher
Sly, old Sly's son of Burtonheath, by birth a
pedlar, by education a cardmaker, by transmutation a
bear-herd, and now by present profession a tinker?
Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot, if
she know me not: if she say I am not fourteen pence
on the score for sheer ale, score me up for the
lyingest knave in Christendom. What! I am not
Christopher Sly - The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew begins with a two-scene "Induction" or introductory segment, which concerns an elaborate practical joke played by a nobleman on a drunken tinker. At the end of the Induction, the various characters settle down to watch a play. In the Bard on the Beach production directed by Meg Roe, she has eliminated this problematic introduction and gone straight to the meat of the play.
My daughter Hilary and I attended last Thursday’s of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. I took my daughter instead of my wife (a most gracious, well-mannered and giving wife) because Hilary (a most gracious, well-mannered and giving wife and mother) was suffering the ill-effects of handling a budding 14-year-old Katharina Minola-type named Rebecca. My Rosemary had suggested that I take Hilary to cheer her up.
Rosemary’s suggestion paid off. We laughed a lot. This Taming of the Shrew is far better in laughs than any Three Stooges of my memory. But somewhere, by the end, the laughs get serious and both Lois Anderson (Kate) and John Murphy (Petruchio) transform the comedy into a sobering essay on life.
I am a fan of Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare – The Invention of the Human and there is no Bard on the Beach play that I am not accompanied by this thick tome on Shakespeare. Because of the special circumstances of my former photo-journalistic profession I can reveal here that Bard on the Beach Artistic Director, Christopher Gaze has Bloom’s Invention on his bedside table.
Of the wonderful speech that Katharina (Lois Anderson) makes at the very end of the play Bloom writes:
Even subtler is Kate’s long and famous speech, her advice to women concerning their behavior toward their husbands, just before the play concludes. Again, one would have to be very literal-minded indeed not to hear the delicious irony that is Kate’s undersong, centered on the great line “I am asham’d that women are so simple.” It requires a very good actress to deliver this set piece properly, and a better director than we tend to have now, if the actress is to be give her full chance, for she is advising women how to rule absolutely, while feigning obedience.
|Meg Roe & Lois Anderson|
It was fun to see Vancouver’s perennial angel, Bernard Cuffling as Kate and her sister Bianca’s (the fair Bianca) father, Baptista Minola. In this play he is less the nasty man who in fact may have made his eldest daughter be as she is with his overtly preference for the younger Bianca. He is more benign. I would not want to see my angel from the Art’s Club’s It’s a Wonderful Life become a devil in any way!
The Fair Bianca played by Dawn Petten, perhaps ever so shrewdly (!) directed by Meg Roe, is an empty headed hussy who in combination with her father’s doting makes this Katherina/Kate perfectly justifiable in her fiendness. Henceforth I will look at my beautiful white and sweet smelling English Rose, Rosa ‘Fair Bianca’ with a renewed and slightly less romantic respect. But consider that my Fair Bianca sometimes bleeds as in the picture below. This might suggest that Costume Designer Mara Gottler did well to dress her Fair Bianca in red most of the time!
|A 'ghost' awaits his cue from Shakespeare's Theatre|
Illustrated and written by C. Walter Hodges
I liked John Murphy as Petruchio and I do believe that he has made this role entirely his. His sidekick Kayvon Kelly had me in stitches most of the time until he seriously accompanied himself in an Italian ballad. Bard’s actors seem to be multitalented. They dance, they sing and even (Jennifer Lines) play the accordion. And consider that Sound Designer Patrick Fennefather has mastered the difficult task of condensing Beethoven for this Shrew!
|English Rose Rosa 'Fair Bianca'|
I am worried for the coming opening of the Scottish play as the lead role, of Lady Macbeth played by Colleen Wheeler, might have issues. Does she suffer from extreme laryngitis? Wheeler plays Biondella a servant to Baptista in the Taming of the Shrew. During the whole play she never uttered a word and inexplicably kept ringing a little bell. What gives? Perhaps Circe has cast a spell on her.
I must give an explanation here for the picture of Christopher Gaze as Richard III. For me Bard on the Beach in its long occupation of Kate’s Vanier Park is full of ghosts of Shakespeare plays past. I have laughed and cried through the years. Even Hilary who has seen fewer plays said to me when the fit and beautifully suited Gaze gave his short and sweet introductory speech, “Wasn’t he cute when he dressed in drag two years ago in Much Ado About Nothing?” Gaze indeed did play Christopher Sly at least twice in Taming of the Shrews past were the induction was included.
I concur that he indeed was cute and we in Vancouver should be aptly proud of our Bard on the Beach, ghosts included. They should not be swinged.