Sure, Seattle Shakespeare Company's still got actors using Billy’s pretty-talkin’ language, but don’t expect any other fancypants stuff from this indoor revival of Wooden O's The Taming of the Shrew. This here’s trailer park Shrew through and through.
The titular shrew Kate (Kelly Kitchens) sneers as an antagonistic biker babe while her suitor Petruchio (David Quicksall) rocks serious mutton chops and always has his trucker hat in hand. Their banter and chemistry help ground the show, even if their initial meeting/battle includes BBQ weaponry, bite marks, and groin trauma. This is white-trash wooing, from the (possibly) stood-up bride swilling Jack Daniels to Petruchio withholding a few pieces of Colonel's original recipe from Kate.
The over-the-top trailer park archetypes the characters adopt give the production its lifeblood. Bianca (Brenda Joyner) is the tiara-wearing beauty-pageant wannabe pursued by Hortensio (John Ulman), here portrayed with an extreme rural lisp, and the beer-gutted slob Gremio (Keith Dahlgren). Petruchio's sidekick Grumio (David S. Hogan) seems like dirt-biking reject who sports a sleeveless mesh top, backward camouflage hat and matching pants, and the false karate bravado of someone who probably obtained a yellow belt but acts like he’s a ninja warrior. By contrast, it makes the non-native characters (Lucentntio, Tranio, and Biondello) play things relatively straight and seem much less compelling as a result.
The stage design, centered around the Minola family’s trailer, is pure rural kitsch with details like a deflated balloon hanging from a telephone wire adding to the environment. Don’t expect a drop of subtlety; every sight gag or clever innuendo is played up to its full potential with sly grins and gesticulations. There are multiple points in the show where the word “duty” is uttered and the characters on stage break out laughing.
There’s nothing particularly dignified about this Shrew in the traditional sense—all the better for it.
The Taming of the Shrew
Thru May 12, Playhouse at Seattle Center (formerly Intiman Playhouse), $22–$45