By William Shakespeare
Directed by Nick Minas
Produced by Theo Ubique Theatre Co.
in association with Michael James
At No Exit Caft
Hilarious Shakespeare comedy delights
The folks at Theo Ubique, in their slightly expanded stage at No Exit Cafe in Rogers Park, have ventured in producing Shakespeare’s comedy–The Taming of the Shrew using the hilarious antics and techniques of classic Commedia D’ elle Arte forms including slap-stick, prat falls, sound effects, stock characters and physical comedy. This show is a hoot!
Lead by love-hate rollicking relationship between Katherina (the fierce Jenny Lamb) and her determined suitor Petruchio (the commanding Jeremy Van Meter), this non-stop funny show is so energetic and so physical that it is a sheer delight. And–it is fine Shakespeare! Director Nick Minas’ concept to mount The Bard’s comedy using vivid costumes (designed by Jill Van Brussel) with a hint of 17th Century and commedia d’elle arte including masks, works because he has cast marvelously. Minas’ staging added swift movement that enhanced the comedy.
Steve Gensler (Lucentio), Mike Oleon (Tranio), Chery Roy (Baptista Minola, J. Preddie Predmore (Gremio), Ben Mason (Hortensio), Matthew Sherbach (Bianca Minola, Mikey Vines (Biondello, and Ryan Jarosch (Grumoi) support Lamb and Van Meter expertly. This Taming is an ensemble triumph! Gender bending players, physical antics, flamboyance, smart timed asides and nicely executed sound effects all contributed to raise Shakespeare’s comedy to a carnival atmosphere. This show takes cabaret theatre to a new level. Did I saw that it is also a fine rendering to Shakespeare’s script? This production reminded me of Kiss Me Kate but minus Porter’s score.
My only problem with this production is that–if you’re going to use all the physicality of commedia d’elle arte forms–and–still be true to Shakespeare’s script–the show tends to drag on a tad too long. It is as if the comedians wore out their welcome. But the show could be cut about 15 minutes from the 2 and half hours to sustain both the story and the humor. I was impressed at the stamina of the players who never stopped the comic flow.
This highly theatrical and nicely styled show is both a hilarious treat and a smart rendering of Shakespeare. It is a fun show and a excellent show to introduce young folks to Shakespeare. You’ll laugh and admire the effort of this dedicated cast. Who said Shakespeare can’t be fun?
At No Exit Cafe, 6070N. Glenwood, Chicago, IL