Some times asking “what have I just seen?” can be a good thing. This is one of those times.
Ostensibly based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, the show resolves around four yellow dress wearing women named Kate.
At the start they inhabit a 1950s runway of tiled domesticity that stretches across the middle of the Stage Two performance area.
The cast – Keziah Joseph, Danielle Meehan, Joanna Holden and Megan Treadwell, credited as devising performers – launch into a theatre-craft laden discussion about what we are about to see, and warn that at points we might not know what is going on.
But while there is no narrative as such, we are taken on a bold and captivating ride through different aspects of womanhood – practical, maternal, anxious, sultry, violent, joyous, solitary, sororal, savage.
The setting shifts through lighting, movement, original sound, and live video to transport us to imagined nightclubs, flats, institutions, gardens, and back to the humdrum home.
The video, by Rory Willats and the cast, is mixed live, with chromakey and multiple viewpoints playing with our perceptions. It’s a very modern approach, but one that never feels intrusive.
Sarah Calver’s concept and direction keeps things on track, with attention never waning through the 70 minute straight run.
Each of the cast is equally captivating, and as comfortable in ensemble work as solo performance. It’s a challenging piece but brilliantly enacted.
This is far from Shakespeare, but it shares the Bard’s ability to mix humour and pathos, and the opportunity to let the rhythm of the poetry guide your emotions as much as the words uttered.
It’s bold, brave stuff.
- Tamed continues at Theatre Royal Stage Two until June 25 2022