The bulk of the show revolves around two sisters, the eldest and more stubborn of which, Katherina, must be married off before her more beautiful and mild tempered younger sister, Bianca, can be wed. Petruchio decides to court her, and successfully “tames” her until she becomes obedient.
The local theatre company has put its own twist on the play, setting it in 1950s Italy. Ted Sloan, who plays Petruchio, argues that director Dawn Ljuden’s idea to set it in that decade made sense, because of the differing roles of men and women at that time.
“It fit really well into there because you’ve got this really headstrong woman, who’s not your everyday woman,” he argues. “She beats up men, she curses, she raises stools and tries to beat people, and then you’ve got her trying to burst out of that mode, so that was fun to do all that research and find out.”
Although the times have certainly changed, Sloan argues there can still be lessons learned from the play, despite it arguably being Shakespeare’s most sexist. At the end there are three different relationships: the fiery one between Petruchio and Katherina, the idyllic one between Bianca and her suitor that has underlying problems, and a third born out of convenience.
“You learn at the end that Petruchio and Kate, the two who fight all the time, are actually really happy. They’re balanced. They both fight as hard as they can, and at the end of the day, they’re cool. They’re in love.”
For those who have never seen Shakespeare live before, the language can be confusing at first, but the crowd warms up to it quickly thanks to the delivery of the Stage North actors.
To first-timers, Sloan has this advice: “Come in with an open mind, because it’s a different language, even though it is English. It’s going to be interesting, but just sit back and see what happens. Listen hard. When you get bored of listening hard, just watch, because a lot of Shakespeare is done acting and standing up. It’s not just a bunch of talking heads.
The Taming of the Shrew plays November 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. at the North Peace Cultural Centre. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $20 for youth and seniors, and $15 for children.