Taking on a Shakespeare play is a challenge for any theatre group; even more so for a youth theatre whose average age is in the low teens. After all, all teenagers hate Shakespeare, right?
Not so – for every single young actor taking part in The Taming of the Shrew at The Island Free School last weekend demonstrated not only a thorough understanding of the play, but immense delight and enjoyment in the performance.
The director’s take on the show was part of this enjoyment, for interspersed with the dialogue were superbly choreographed dance routines, imbued, like the whole production, with humour and energy. I loved in particular the young servants playing air-guitar on broomsticks, and I have sneaking feeling Shakespeare himself would have approved.
The Bard would certainly have appreciated the amount of laughter his script produced in the hands of the cast, not just from well-delivered lines of dialogue, but from Petruchio turning up for his wedding in full scuba diving outfit complete with flippers and Bermuda shorts, and various slapstick moments which had the audience in stitches.
A few lines of dialogue were lost, mainly from younger actors who will with time develop greater voice techniques, but this did not detract from the story in any way and the main characters were not only word perfect (itself a feat given the Elizabethan poetic script) but ensured all the meaning came across to the audience.
Some of the younger actors, notably Jodie Addinall, Daisy Chapman and Olivia-Mae Gurney as the narrators, managed complex exposition extremely well, while the three competitors for Bianca’s hand were perfectly matched. Several actors played multiple roles with apparent ease, but the stars of the show, as they should be, were the main characters.
Bianca was played with beautiful sweetness by Orla Gibbins – I particularly loved her tender scenes, and dances, with Simon Apsey’s delightfully portrayed Lucentio – while Brennan Coe excelled as her father Baptista. Noah Lovell as Petruchio dominated the stage as much as he did his eventual wife, but the greatest plaudit of the show must go to Beth Witham, who mastered the transformation of Katherine from shrew to wife perfectly.
Credit must also be given to the backstage support – everything from the lighting and music to staging underpinned the quality of the actors on the stage. I thoroughly enjoyed this show from start to finish and look forward to seeing the next production from South Wight Youth Theatre. It was, as a bonus, lovely to see some of the actors receiving awards, all of which were, judging by this production, richly deserved. Well done one and all!