Sunday, February 01, 2009

Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew

I'm often reminded of Goethe's saying: "A man's faults are of his time, but his virtues are his own." This is certainly the case for The Taming Of The Shrew. The play features all the excellent writing of Shakespeare, but it also displays the monstrous misogyny of the time. The titular "taming" is a prolonged string of spousal abuse, which culminates in an wife suffering from battered spouse syndrome. This abuse is celebrated by all the husbands present.

It's unfortunate, because, as I said earlier, the writing is very good at times. Shakespeare pulls some more of his cross-dressing and role-shifting silliness in this one. One problem I had was the fact that almost every character's name was both unfamiliar and ended in 'O', leading to more than a little confusion on my part. This is compounded by all the people pretending to be other people.

The central play is actually another of Shakespeare's favorite tricks, the play within a play. The first act of the play is about a noble who tricks a poor man, Christopher Sly, into believing that he is a noble who has been sick and delusional, only now emerging from his illness. Sly has a great line when introduced to the man pretending to be his wife:

'Tis much. Servants, leave me and her alone.
Madam, undress you and come now to bed.

Anyway, the nobles go to watch a play, which is the "actual" play about taming a shrew. Only once in the remainder of the story do the original characters act, and that is just to mention that the play isn't over yet. There's no resolution there at all.

I enjoyed this one. More than a few moments that were genuinely funny, and I think a couple more would have been funny had I known the old-timey usage of the words.

13 down, 24 to go.
Next Up, Richard the Second

Now playing: Yo-Yo Ma - Suite No. 6 in D-Major - Sarabande
via FoxyTunes

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