(Charles Spencer’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 1/27.)
SOMETIMES the unexpected happens, to glorious effect. I have long believed that The Taming of the Shrew is one of the most boring and deeply unlovable of Shakespeare's plays. The footling disguises of the wooers, the unfunny "comic" servants, and the sheer cruelty of the story, in which a spirited young woman has her will broken by a bullying, mercenary husband, seem to me to show Shakespeare in the worst possible light.
Yet Lucy Bailey's new production, set in the paternalistic Italy of the 1940s and with the whole stage turned into a gigantic bed on which the characters bicker, have pillow fights, and fall in love, proves startling, blissfully funny and unexpectedly moving.