The Taming of the Shrew
Once again, the peerless Synetic Theater demonstrates that "silent Shakespeare" is not an oxymoron. Synetic's adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, now at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, manages to blend psychological insights with the physicality of the original text, ranging from elaborate slapstick to extravagant dance moves.
Company founders Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili serve as director and choreographer respectively, and Irina is also ideally cast as the hot-tempered "shrew" Katherine. Paata had the inspired idea of setting this production in contemporary "Paduawood," where paparazzi lurk even at funerals and surfaces always trump sincerity.
In this version, Baptista (Hector Reynoso) is a fashion designer who himself wears "biker chic"he's never without shades and a bandanna around his headand beautiful Bianca (Irina Kavsadze) stands out in trendy yellow costumes. Unlike the other women in their micro-miniskirts, the more down-to-earth Katherine prefers to wear classic tailored black slacks with only highlights of yellow.
In this retelling of the old story, Petruchio (Ryan Sellers) is a painter who clearly sees the "taming" part of courtship as a bit of roleplaying. He still hosts a feast where every guest except Katherine eats well and she is reduced to watching food fly past her on wires; he still keeps her awake all night and trashes the clothes he has a tailor bring for her approval. But he realizes when he's gone too far and does attempt to make amends, leading to some luscious scenes between them in his studio.
The director has provided sparkling moments for his entire 12-member ensemble, whether it's earnest Lucentio (Scott Brown) pursuing Bianca while wearing a hilariously unconvincing disguise or fellow suitor Hortensio (Vato Tsikurishvili) as an unlikely Rastafarian. Anastasia R. Simes has designed imaginative and amusing costumes that use the full rainbow of colors, as befits a play where one of the leads is an artist.
As usual with Synetic, the production sounds as good as it looks, incorporating an almost continuous musical score by Konstantine Lortkipanidze.