A RAW, FUNNY AND ENGAGING PRODUCTION OF SHAKESPEARE’S “THE TAMING OF THE SHREW”.
Over the past three decades the San Francisco Shakespeare Company in various parks in the San Francisco Bay area presents a free Shakespearean play. Since its founding in 1981, this group has grown to become of the largest free Shakespeare programs in the nation and a major arts education programs throughout the Bay Area and the state.
This year the company has presented the Bard’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in South and East Bay. They are now presenting a raw, funny and engaging production of this sexist play on the Main Post Parade Ground Lawn of The Presidio in San Francisco. This chauvinist play has the distinction of being the most adapted play in the Shakespeare canon.
I have seen the play many numerous times over the years that included it being presented in old west, a mod version that takes place here in San Francisco and yes a modern seaside resort that was presented last year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The San Francisco Shakespeare group is presenting the classical version of 1590’s in Padua, Italy.
Directors Rebecca J. Ennals and Stephen Muterspaugh have inserted the rarely performed Christopher Sly a drunken Tinker deceived into thinking he’s a Lord Instruction scenes. The directors have given a fair and pure clarification of the play. It’s done completely done as a Commedia dell’ art production to the enjoyment of the outside audience.. The influence of commedia and its characters is everywhere especially the role of the servants. There is even singing and dancing in the 16th century style in this two hour and half production.
Tim Kniffin as Petruccio and Carla Pantoja as Katherina in their war between the sexes theme are excellent in their roles. Both camp up the role with exaggerated gestures. Kniffin plays the unpredictable Petruccio as a person with strong misgivings about what he’s doing while Pantoja is exceptionally truculent in the role
Phil Wong is excellent as the contentious Grumio. Not only does he have a great theatrical voice but he plays the accordion. Lizzie Calogero gives a splendid comic performance in several roles including Pedant, Widow and a servant. Amy Lizardo also is very skillful in her comedy role as a servant. David E. Moore as Lucentio, Miyaka Cochrane as Hortensio and Phil Lowrey as Vincentio, wooers to Bianca are hilarious in their respective roles. Monica Ho beautifully plays the somewhat spoiled and bitchy Bianca. Jesse Caldwell gives an impressive performance as Baptista.
Sometimes the pacing is a little slow and the use of head microphones results in strange, intangible voices. However the whole production is nicely performed.
“The Taming of the Shrew” will be performed again on the Ground Lawn of Main Post Parade on Graham Street between Lincoln Blvd and Moraga Ave, The Presidio, San Francisco on September 6, 7, 13, 14 at 2 pm. On September 20 and 21st the group will appear at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre in San Francisco’s McLaren Park. It will be FREE. For more information go to www.sfshakes.org or call 415-558-0888