The Taming – Marin Shakespeare Company
The Taming. Comedy. Written by Lauren Gunderson. Directed by Robert Currier. Marin Shakespeare Company, Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, 890 Belle Avenue, San Rafael, CA 94901.
Given the absurdity of this summer’s Presidential race, Marin Shakespeare offers a wacky fantasy offering comic relief to our current cultural chaos. Writer Lauren Gunderson serves up heaps of political satire with a decidedly feminist and lesbian perspective, with a few subtle nods to Shakespeare’s Shrew and some clever time-shifting back to America’s Constitutional Convention. Its broad farce laden with over-the-top stereotypes adding to the fun.
Set amidst the Miss America Pageant, Georgia’s representative Katherine (Tristan Cunningham) has political aspirations that equal her bodacious beauty pageant skills. Going rogue, she kidnaps an ultra-conservative Senator’s aide (Katie Rubin) and her diametric opposite, a left wing blogger (Monica Ho), in a bold attempt to re-write the Constitution and right all wrongs.
The acting is wonderful, with all three women chewing the scenery with their cartoonish characterizations. Cunningham’s super-patriotic contestant is more than up to the task of ‘taming’ and using her political captives for her objectives. Katie Rubin’s Patricia is wrapped tighter than a watch coil, full of sexual tension and right-wing grandstanding. Monica Ho’s Bianca is full of liberal angst and self-righteous extremism. She’s obsessed with saving a panda shrew, all the time believing it’s a rodent. Trapped in a hotel room, the three wage a dialectical battle of wills that illustrates our modern “us against them” mentality.
Director Robert Currier keeps the action moving like an old fashioned screwball comedy. The second act features an ether induced surreal flashback to 1787 where the in-fighting between forefathers James Madison, George and Martha Washington and Charles Pinckney (all hilariously played by Cunningham, Ho and Rubin) over issues of the electoral college and slavery merge history with current events. Of course there’s a fairytale conclusion with unexpected alliances and perhaps a few epiphanies. Its smart, silly nonsense, which is an achievement in and of itself.
Performances run June 25th thru July 17th, 2016. www.marinshakespeare.com 415.499.4488