For Valentine’s week, The Rude Mechanicals present “The Tamer Tamed,” directed by Liana Olear and produced by Joshua Engel. The first performance was available February 13 on YouTube. There will be a second showing on February 20, 2021. The play was written around 1608 by John Fletcher, a contemporary and sometime collaborator of Shakespeare, and is a sequel to the Bard’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”
The premise is Petruchio (Wes Dennis) is now a widower. Kate has sadly died. He is now looking for a new wife and chooses her cousin, Maria (Melissa Schick). However, unlike Kate, Maria is not tamable. She uses refusal to perform her wifely duties as a way of controlling Petruchio. Not only she, but all the women in the town, decline to have conjugal relations with their mates. In the mix is Maria’s sister, Livia (Linda “Spencer” Dye), who would like to marry her love, Rowland (Sarah Pfanz). However, her father, Petronius (Nancy Linden), has betrothed her to the much older, Moroso (Bill Bodie). Livia asks her sister and cousin, Biancha (Pamela Northrup), Kate’s sister from “Taming of the Shrew,” and they agree. There are some typical Elizabethan theatrical twists and turns as Petruchio tries vainly to conquer his new wife, but she is steadfast and will not be swayed. Even when Petruchio threatens to leave and travel around the world, Maria sticks to her guns.
The play shows us a Renaissance version of feminism, reminiscent of “Lysistrata.” This should not be surprising with Elizabeth I on the throne, a strong woman who never married. Shakespeare’s women got stronger after Kate. However, Fletcher is not Shakespeare. The dialogue is not as rich as the Bard’s, and the humor is not as witty. That being said, “The Tamer Tamed” is an amusing look at how Shakespeare’s peers regarded a woman’s role, and, as a woman, it’s nice to see Petruchio not have his victory over this new wife.
The romp is great fun and worth viewing…You will be drawn to both new and a familiar set of characters.
Schick does well to capture the strength of Maria. The actress convinces us that Maria can hold her own against her husband and her father. Dennis cleverly develops Petruchio from a lecherous suitor, to the baffled husband, and, finally, to the equal partner of his young wife. Dye also gives a strong performance as Livia. We totally believe that sweet Livia could attack her suitor, Moroso, stand up to her father, and manage one great trick at the end.
Pfanz does fine in a cross-gender casting as Rowland. Because she is female, she creates a softer Rowland that seems perfectly vulnerable as he is manipulated by the craftier Livia. Northrup also creates another strong female character with Biancha and gives a notable performance. Bodie carries himself well as poor Moroso, egged and slapped by his love interest, bringing some humorous moments. In addition, some lighter scenes are created by Sean Eustis as Jacques, Petruchio’s servant.
The supporting cast, Nathan Rosen as Tranio, Biancha’s husband; Jim Adams as Sophocles, a friend of Petruchio; and Nancy Linden as Petronius, the father of Maria and Livia, all give fine performances.
Olear’s direction keeps things moving and the pace is quick. The director does well in keeping the actor’s focused despite the fact that this is on YouTube, and the cast cannot see or hear their audience.
Alan Duda the Zoominematographer and Jaki Demarest, who designed the graphics and sound, both create interesting and consistent backgrounds for the actors.
The romp is great fun and worth viewing. So, if you missed it this past weekend, catch it on the February 20. You will be drawn to both new and a familiar set of characters.
Running Time: Two hours including a 10 minute intermission.
“The Tamer Tamed” will be presented again on February 20, 2021 at 8pm, streaming on YouTube here. If you would like to help Rude Mechanicals with a $10 donation, please click here. To find out more about the group and future productions, go to their website.