Quiet, “a non-profit, multi-disciplinary arts community dedicated to social change and personal transformation through intentional, meaningful art” (say that five times fast) is currently presenting William Shakespeare’s comedy, The Taming of the Shrew. While the text remains basically the same, this 1960s version ala TV’s Mad Men, gives the ancient work a fresh take.
Baptista Minola, senior partner of Padua Advertising, has a problem. His youngest daughter Bianca has been drawing the attention of nearly every man on the Upper East Side. His solution? No one will be allowed to “court” Bianca until his oldest daughter – the head strong, fiery, and temperamental Katarina – is married. After all, who would want a wife like Kate?
Shrew is being presented at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, providing a surprisingly comfortable setting with good acoustics. Director Josh Hornbeck brings out the best of his cast. Zandi Carlson is perfectly hostile as Katarina and is well matched against David Pickett as Petruchio. However, I was looking for more hatred from Katarina as shown on the program cover. Jessica Spencer was a joy to watch as the somewhat incompetent and typing-challenged Bianca. A clever scene involves her being tied up by her sister with phone cords.
The cast was obviously well-rehearsed and confident. If any line was dropped, I didn’t hear it. Speaking “Shakespeare” is hard enough, but this cast rattled off every line as if it was everyday language and no awkward pauses. The only downside to this was that the cast spoke their lines so quickly, that it was a times hard to understand what was said. This could have been helped if some of the actors were a little more animated with their movements. Two stand outs for physical comedy go to Geoff Ramler as Petruchio’s servant, Grumio and Michael Ramquist as Gremio.
While setting this famous play in an advertising agency was a brilliant choice, some scenes did not translate well. For one, no actual work for client is shown and I would have liked to see more “office work.” Later on, the groom and bride travel from their wedding by horse instead of a car, but I don’t know how that could be helped.
A note must be given the impressive array of posters of actual advertising from the 1960s and 1970s the graced the set and the original music presented between scenes by Matt and Roxy Hornbeck and Ryan Miyake.
Following the play, a short panel discussion was presented with some of the cast and Quiet’s Executive Director, Matt Hornbeck. The conversation centered on the play’s themes of chauvinism and violence.
You have two more chances to catch this great play this weekend, February 24 and 25. Door open at 7:30 p.m. and show begins at 8:00 p.m. Advanced tickets are just $7 at BrownPaperTickets.com or $10 at the door. For more information, be sure to visit quietonline.org.