MK Theatre makes a Shrewd booking

The Taming of the Shrew - RSC production, 2012
The Taming of the Shrew - RSC production, 2012

THE Royal Shakespeare Company brings a battle of the sexes to the fore from Tuesday, when they unleash The Taming of the Shrew to the MK Theatre stage, writes Sammy Jones.

There are many ways to interpret this classic piece of work, but for the RSC, love rules.

“What we’ve done is focus on the love story in the centre of the piece,” explains Elle While, assistant director on the delivery.

“These two people, Kate and Petruchio, really fall for each other, and the sexual tension is incredible.

“They are really compatible lovers...it’s not about the taming of a woman, but about two people who are outsiders of their society, finding solace in each other.”

That the Bard’s work is so open to interpretation is one thing, but the play was written more than 400 years ago.

There is no scurrying to ask the author for opinions or explanation.

“...because you can’t ask, it gives you much more of a free rein, and unlike modern plays, you also don’t get a lot of design. You just get an incredible language and Shakespeare allows you the freest palette to work with.”

This particular production is set in Italy, in the 1940s: “It’s an era that is quite seductive, warm, fiery, very Godfather like.

“We wanted to make it a piece that audiences can relate to. and believe the story...”

And this particular Shrew has a cast of 20 (“These days writers write to a budget, Shakespeare didn’t need to do that – he went all out!”) that are simply fantastic.

“They are so imaginative and work so well together,” Elle said.

Elle’s own love affair with the Bard began with a performance of Richard III, by the RSC: “I was completely enthralled,” she says, and the excitement still sounds in her voice at the mere memory. “It blew me away, I just loved

the stories.

“The way he tells them is so powerful, and now as a director, you can rethink his plays so much – you are never going to run out of ideas.

“He writes characters so truthfully, he was obviously able to see people so well.”

I guess we must ask the question, in light of the recent controversy that suggested Shakespeare never did pen the classics attributed to him. Could that be so?

“I don’t buy into that at all,” Elle says, with no hesitation.

“I just can’t believe the works didn’t come from him. “They are so clearly from the same man, and by a man that really knows the world, someone that has really experienced life from a variety of perspectives.

“It feels like a fashionable fad to suggest that he wasn’t responsible.”

And if you’ve never before ventured out to watch a piece of Shakespeare on the stage, let this be the show that changes everything.

“Don’t be daunted by the word Shakespeare,” Elle advises.“It doesn’t mean that it’s highbrow.

“You will laugh and feel silly,” she promised.

“The cast are funny, comic geniuses, and the comedy is very physical which helps to make it accessible.” “We have a lot of school groups come to see it, and at times it is like watching a Take That gig! “They are intoxicated by the experience.

“It’s a pretty rock n roll show!”

> The Taming of the Shrew runs at MK Theatre from Tuesday, to March 10.

Tickets range from £12 to £30.

Call to book on 0844 871 7652.