Find out why our production of The Taming of the Shrew is must-see theatre.

1. The period costumes

Designer Hannah Clark takes inspiration from the fashions of the high Elizabethan period to create gorgeous costumes that are as intricate as they are imposing. Watch the women fill up the stage in their farthingale skirts while the marriageable men aim to impress in floral doublets and hose.

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The women of Taming of the Shrew in dresses designed by Hannah Clark.

2. It's LOL funny

Like Blackadder meets French and Saunders, the show features Shakespearean comedy and satire, fast-paced fun, wordplay and wit, as well as some fantastic comic turns.

3. Those incredible ruffs

As with all the costume choices, the different ruffs hint at character status and personality. While the older grand dames have large traditional ruffs, Petruchia's black wedding ruff shows that this is not your typical marriage...

Three characters in different ruffs: a small white ruff, a black ruff and a two-layered white ruff.
Just three of the ruffs from the show.
Photos by Ikin Yum © RSC Browse and license our images

4. How does she do that walk?!

When Sophie Stanton takes to the stage as Gremia, she breaks all the laws of physics. Is she on a hoverboard? Wearing rollerskates? All we'll say is that her effortless ability to glide across the stage in full period dress is worthy of an Oscar alone.

5. A Petruchia for the ages

Claire Price joins legends like John Cleese, Peter O'Toole and Jonathan Pryce in portraying Petruchio (here, Petruchia), a character as mercurial as she is menacing. And that hair... 

A woman in a green Elizabethan dress holds her hand against her ear, listening.
Claire Price as Petruchia.
Photo by Ikin Yum © RSC Browse and license our images

6. Speaking of the hair...

Aside from Petruchia's crazy curls, the hair game is strong throughout the production, especially when it comes to Petruchia's brother-in-law Bianco and his luscious locks. Actor James Cooney gets the chance to flick his hair like he's in a shampoo commercial. No surprise then that Bianco is pursued by no less than three women in the show...

A man with flowing black hair in a flowery doublet and hose.
James Cooney as Bianco.
Photo by Ikin Yum © RSC Browse and license our images

7. It's got a catchy soundtrack

Inspired by Annie Lennox's Walking on Broken Glass, Ruth Chan's rock-renaissance score memorably sets the scene for the play. Director Justin Audibert explains, "Imagine a kind of Baroque Eurythmics mix up and you're kind of where the world is."

8. Women with weapons

With the women in charge, our Armoury department had to work out how to get a sword and sword belt over a farthingale and bumroll, rather than the much more straightforward trousers and armour.

A woman in a red Elizabethan dress holds a sword.
Laura Elsworthy as Trania.
Photo by Ikin Yum © RSC Browse and license our images

9. It's the RSC in rep and on tour

You'll get to see the fantastic cast again at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre this year, as all the actors are also appearing in either As You Like It or Measure for Measure. There are 27 actors working across this summer season of Shakespeare, each featuring in two of the three plays, with the shows also touring in rep from September.

Our Company for the three shows.

10. The play was the inspiration for a famous musical and a classic teen movie  

Kiss Me, Kate not only tells the story of a production of The Taming of the Shrew, but its title comes from one of the play's most famous lines: "Why, there's a wench! Come on, and kiss me, Kate."

As well as that, without The Taming of the Shrew, there's no 10 Things I Hate About You, the teen classic starring a young Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And that would be a truly Shakespearean tragedy.

 

The Taming of the Shrew runs in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre until 31 August, then goes on tour from 25 September 2019 to 4 April 2020.

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