Kate and Petruchio channel Bonnie and Clyde at Bard on the Beach

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The Taming of the Shrew | Bard on the Beach | Mainstage at Vanier Park | June 5 – September 21, 2019

Kate and Petruchio channel Bonnie and Clyde in this subversive Wild West adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, inspired by Bard’s 2007 spaghetti western version.

From the moment Katherine (Jennifer Lines) takes the stage brandishing a rifle, it’s clear that she’s a badass who doesn’t take grief from anyone. She is headstrong, stubborn, and even obstinate — much to the dismay of her younger sister, Bianca (Kate Besworth). Their mother, Baptista Minola (Susinn McFarlen), has decided that Bianca cannot get married until Kate finds a husband.

Bianca has multiple suitors vying for her affections, while Katherine scares hers away. Lucentio (Kamyar Pazandeh) changes places with his servant, Tranio (Chirag Naik), in order to pose as a tutor and gain access to the Minola household.

Meanwhile, Petruchio (Andrew McNee), who has come to Padua to “wive it wealthily,” hears about Kate’s large dowry and resolves to take on the challenge of wooing her. The scene when they first meet is explosive, like a Wild West duel of words and wit. She keeps up her steely demeanour while he’s around, but once he leaves, she turns to the audience and gives us a little smirk. Petruchio shows up to their wedding dressed outrageously, and, after they’re hastily wed, they leave in a blaze of gunfire before they’ve even had dinner.

For their honeymoon, Petruchio decides they need to go out to the country. They continue to be at each other’s throats until something clicks and they channel that energy into passion for each other. By the time they are arguing about whether the moon or sun is in the sky, they are clearly having fun and have come to a newfound understanding. Now a united team, they return to Padua where Lucentio and Bianca are now married. A test of Kate’s wifely obedience has unexpected results, and Kate leaves the stage as she first entered: brandishing a gun and full of confidence — only this time Petruchio is by her side.

The Wild West setting and adjustments to the story make this a satisfying adaptation that honours Kate’s petulant nature while showing that strong women don’t need to change to find love. Some of the comic relief elements felt a bit too cheesy at times, but overall this is a very strong cast in a bold and fitting modern adaptation.

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