Gregory Doran's hilariously inventive production was paired with John Fletcher's The Tamer Tamed.

A woman and man sit next to one another on the floor, he touches her cheek tenderly much to her amazement
Love match: Katherina (Alexandra Gilbreath) and Petruchio (Jasper Britton), 2003, Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Photo by Jonathan Dockar-Drysdale © RSC Browse and license our images


Gregory Doran's pairing of The Taming of the Shrew with John Fletcher's The Woman's Prize or The Tamer Tamed provided a novel framework which replaced the Induction. Fletcher's play was the 'antidote'  to Shakespeare's tale of female subjugation as the tables were turned and Petruchio was tamed by his second wife Maria. Both productions employed the same abstract sets and cast.


Critics were particularly impressed with Doran's innovative approach: the 'production blows like a fresh, restorative breeze through the play, drawing your attention to the unexpected layers of humanity in its subtext...This Shrew dramatises a genuine love-match... it convinces you that this pair of misfits become fellow-conspirators who manage to outwit the system.' Paul Taylor, Independent, 19 January 2004.


Having opened at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in April 2003, Doran's double-bill travelled to the Eisenhower Theater in Washington DC's John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, before enjoying a West End run at the Queen's Theatre, London, in early 2004.


Doran provided a key insight by making both Petruchio (Jasper Britton) and Katherina (Alexandra Gilbreath) emotionally flawed characters. At the beginning of the play, Petruchio is still mourning his father while Katherina is pining for her father's love. Their first encounter was unusually romantic: 'I have never seen the 'wooing' scene more breathtakingly played: instead of barbaric knockabout, we see a damaged couple finding mutual support' Michael Billington, Guardian, 11 April 2003.

Katherina was attracted to a kindred spirit who could make her laugh, whether by tickling her foot or sharing sexual innuendo. Her final speech was delivered with warm sincerity, after which Petruchio emptied out his winnings in a shower of gold, showing that their love was true wealth.

Woman and man seated at a dining table with candles: woman holds a coin and the man looks lovingly at her
Betting on love: Katherina (Alexandra Gilbreath) and Petruchio (Jasper Britton), 2003, Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Photo by Jonathan Dockar-Drysdale © RSC Browse and license our images


Stephen Brimson Lewis designed a witty semi-abstract set consisting of weathered doors which could be reconfigured horizontally and vertically to suggest different locations. The set was exploited to its full comic potential by Alexandra Gilbreath's Katherina whether she was tormenting her sister Bianca (Eve Myles) by pinning her against one door or 'hurtling like a deranged spitfire through the multiple doors' Paul Taylor, Independent, 19 January 2004.

Programme cover for The Taming of the Shrew 2003 at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre featuring a grotesque etched cartoon of an unruly crowd



Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Tom Anderson - Haberdasher, Nicholas

Jasper Britton - Petruchio

Paul Chahidi - Hortensio

Esther Ruth Elliott - Sugarsop, Widow

Ian Gelder - Baptista Minola

Alexandra Gilbreath - Katherina

Christopher Godwin - Gremio

Christopher Harvey - Philip, Tailor

Daniel Hawksford - Lucentio

Rory Kinnear - Tranio

John Lightbody - Curtis

Oliver Maltman - Peter

Eve Myles - Bianca

Bill Nash - Nathaniel

Keith Osborn - Pedant from Mantua, Rafe

David Peart - Adam, Vincentio

Nicolas Tennant - Grumio

Simon Trinder - Biondello

Beth Vyse - Maid

Nathan Rimell - Joseph




Director - Gregory Doran

Designer - Stephen Brimson Lewis

Lighting Designer - Tim Mitchell

Sound - Martin Slavin

Movement - Michael Asghcroft

Music - Paul Englishby


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