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The Taming of the Shrew review at The Queens Theatre Hornchurch Essex

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The Queen’s has rich history when it comes to Shakespeare. Here, Bob Carlton – who has dabbled with adaptations of The Tempest and Macbeth before – delivers a comedic wild west twist, breathing life into one of the Bard’s earliest plays.

From the moment Elliot Harper’s stubble-jawed, whisky-swigging Petruchio staggers into Padua, he possesses an aura of authority to rival Claire Storey’s ferociously independent tomboy, Kate Minola.

The drifter Petruchio and the supposedly untameable shrew Kate – both require a domineering stage presence and in rugged Harper and gutsy Storey, this production certainly delivers. The pair’s tempestuous courtship makes for captivating viewing, a passionate display of brawling and eventual mutual affection.

With a whole host of emotions to convey, Storey’s convincing transformation is touching. She successfully depicts this headstrong character, gradually revealing her insecurities, before heart-warmingly blossoming into the model of obedience.

In marked contrast to sister Kate, Sarah Scowen ably carries-off sweet, virginal Bianca, casting a spell over the male audience members as well as Gremio (Jared Ashe), Hortensio (Matthew Quinn) and Lucentio (Mark Stanford). Also, leading the way in the humour stakes is Greg Last’s crowd-pleasing moustache-clad Mexican Biondello, clearly modelled on Fawlty Towers’ Manuel.

The resident Cut to the Chase cast’s multiple instrumental expertise comes as no surprise. Carol Sloman’s toe-tapping country melody arrangements compliment the production perfectly, with standout hillbilly harmonies from Simon Jessop, Ashe, Tom Jude and Quinn.

Remaining faithful to the text, some characters’ western twang at times does waver, hindering what is already an often-bemusing Shakespearean prose. But it’s a factor you gradually acclimatise to.

Played out in Norman Coates’ stereotypical dust bowl western set, sit tight in the saddle and appreciate the ride.

Production Information

The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, Essex, April 8-30

William Shakespeare
Bob Carlton
Cut to the Chase
Cast includes
Jared Ashe, Elliot Harper, Simon Jessop, Tom Jude, Greg Last, Natasha Moore, Matthew Quinn, Sarah Scowen, Mark Stanford, Claire Storey
Running time
1hr 40mins

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