Skip to content ↓

Student Review - Y12 A-Level English Literature Visit to RSC - The Taming Of The Shrew

Year 12 English Literature students spent the evening at the RSC, watching Shakespeare’s comedy, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Although this isn’t a play we study within our course, the comedy was still an exciting way for us to develop our understanding of Shakespeare as well as witnessing how Elizabethan plays are adapted to entertain modern audiences. Billed as ‘ a reimagined 1590 [where] society is a matriarchy,’ we had high expectations.

The play tells the story of two young sisters and their father’s search for suitable husbands for them. The only problem is, although one is beautiful, elegant and sought-after, the older sister, Katherine, happens to be a stubborn and sharp-tongued troublemaker.  The show is a witty and wonderful story which keeps its audience hooked from the outset. The cunning and sometimes catastrophic schemes attempted by the characters lends the plot to combine disguise with chaos, laughter with tears.

Justin Audibert’s direction of Shakespeare’s famously ‘troubling’ play was unlike any other due to its gender-swapping. The strong, demanding and some-what brutish women sword fighting for a future husband is worlds away from the expectations of the 16th century audience. As a result, the performance presented gender roles in a thought provoking and surprisingly relevant way made all the more poignant in today’s #metoo society. The usual patriarchal plot was completely flipped to reveal strong, powerful women and emotional and compassionate men.

The production was gripping from start to finish, from the eccentric characters to hilarious dialogue and even the occasional musical number. It’s a landmark adaptation which perfectly captures tradition, through its fabulous period costumes, as well as highlighting new and exciting post-feminist concepts.

Vicky Haines – Year 12