By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –
Many audiences would agree that it is easier to watch a production of a Shakespeare play rather than reading the printed text. That is actually one of the reasons why students dread reading Shakespeare in their English classes. One of the controversies that surround Shakespeare as a writer was what themes and life lessons he wanted to convey in his plays. Probably the most (in)famous play that is better seen than read by William Shakespeare is The Taming of the Shrew.
Just like many of the greatest comedies of all time, this play remains a classic because of its humor. Besides the funny moments in the play (and this BBC production), Shakespeare explores touchy subject matter because the play itself is basically a battle of the sexes. This play is actually very relevant to the #MeToo movement that shook the entertainment industry when Alyssa Milano coined that (in)famous hashtag on Twitter in 2017. The Taming of the Shrew is definitely as great artistically as the controversy that has surrounded it for centuries.
Even though John Cleese is an iconic British actor, he feels miscast as the austere Petruchio even though this character actor is more well-known as a comedian. This BBC production appears to have lost the physical humor that makes the original play an enduring classic. *Spoiler* Finally, Kate was not really tamed in this adaptation when compared to her literary counterpart.
Some would say that women are from Venus and men are from Mars. Others of both sexes would be feminist while some men are misogynistic or some women misandristic. Who knows if the battle of the sexes will ever end at all, but The Taming of the Shrew has an arbitrary and ambiguous title when it comes to who really is the shrew that needs taming (pun intended).
The Taming of the Shrew (1980) Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time the characters speak in blank verse
Drink a Shot: every time Gremio acts like a pantaloon (which is a stock character in Italian comedy)
Don’t Choke on Your Drinks: during every hilarious moment
And Cheers: to the notion that “all is fair in love and war” within one of the greatest battle of the sexes ever written as well as performed on the stage and adapted for cinema and TV screens