When a friend suggested an evening at the theatre recently, I jumped at the opportunity as I haven’t been to a show or play for a long while. “It’s Am Dram,” Avis said, “Shakespeare; one of my favourite plays: The Taming of the Shrew.”
I studied Shakespeare at school and although found some of his plays dull and lengthy, many were always enjoyable. In the past, I have seen professional productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, but never seen an amateur dramatics one, nor this play. It was being performed by Sodbury Players (Chipping Sodbury being a very old and beautiful market town close to where I live) who are very well known and respected in this region and have won several awards.
I’d seen several of their pantomimes, due mainly to my granddaughter Kirsty being in the supporting cast. I knew she had a part in The Taming, as did for the first time, my daughter Katie! I also knew they had both been practising hard for some six weeks to learn to play a musical instrument for the production, the ukulele and mandolin.
In case you don’t know the story, briefly it’s about how Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, tricks the headstrong Katherina, an obdurate shrew into marriage. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship, but Petruchio tempers her with various psychological torments – the “taming” – until she becomes a compliant and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina’s more desirable sister, Bianca. Typical of Shakespeare, it’s full of trickery and persons pretending to be other characters; a medieval farce which is highly entertaining. The play has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, and musical theatre, perhaps the most famous being Cole Porter’s musical Kiss Me, Kate. The film 10 Things I Hate About You is also loosely based on the play.
So, tickets duly bought, Avis, Brenda and myself were off to enjoy ourselves. We weren’t disappointed; it was tremendous. A fabulous production, as good as any on the professional stage. Talking of the stage, in this performance the stage had been extended into the audience so you felt you were really there among the action.
Afterwards, Katie and Kirsty came over to say hello and meet my two friends who were full of enthusiasm and delight at the whole evening. I was disappointed we couldn’t take photographs during the performance as would have loved to have one of both my girls in costume – they looked beautiful (well, okay, I would say that as I’m biased, but honestly they did – as Avis and Brenda will confirm). We look forward to the next production Sodbury Players put on, an outdoor performance in the summer (fingers crossed the rain stays away) of Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie.