Review of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’: Bardish larks in the park

The wooing of Bianca and the taming of Katherine has been taking place at theatres worldwide for over 400 years. Last Thursday, Copenhageners had their chance to experience ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ – one of Shakespeare’s most popular and controversial comedies – under an idyllic setting in Rosenborg Castle’s courtyard.  

This micro-scale retelling brought about some laughs thanks to a robust performance from the New Theatre/American Drama Group Europe. In the spirit of the mild summer evening, the six-person ensemble cast hit the right notes in capturing Petruchio’s machismo, Kate’s frothy temper combined with an acidic wit, and Bianca’s coquettish deflections of her suitors’ advances.

Of course, no performance of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ would be complete without the misogynistic overtones. This was evident from the first act, as Petruchio swaggers into Padua to woo the wealthy Kate, punctuating his boasts with hip thrusts to the delight of the audience. His repartee with Kate was the highlight throughout the show, with the two characters chasing each other around the stage in exaggerated fashion. Of course, the two are eventually wed, but not before Petruchio slugs the priest and guzzles communion wine.  

Meanwhile, Bianca’s suitor, Lucentio, humorously donned a Groucho Marx mask to disguise himself as her Latin tutor and undertook some covert wooing. Other comedic bits included a little toilet humour, references to bridal suite activities, and Petruchio pulling an audience member onstage while he completed the ‘taming’ process with Kate by convincing her the elderly gentleman is in fact a virgin.  

The performance moved briskly, with cast members ducking in and out to change costumes and replace props. Of course, this is old hat now for the veteran German-based troupe, which is in the middle of a lengthy tour performing exclusively at northern European castles. At the end of their Rosenborg show, the cast came on stage for a lengthy ovation.

The intimate setting made for a pleasant evening under the Copenhagen twilight. Audience members huddled on blankets with uncorked bottles of wine, savouring the last throes of summer with a little Shakespeare in the park.

The Taming of the Shrew

Rosenborg Castle
August 29