Augustine's, Edinburgh
August, 2002

*** All-male Zimbabwean production glides along smoothly

The Over The Edge company cruise through Shakespeare's play in 90 minutes with a cast of six plus life-size puppets.

Although Petruchio is played by a white actor and Kate by a black one, there is no racial element to the production; the other white performer plays Kate's sister Bianca (no pun intended, I presume). Costuming is modern southern-African, from formal robes to loud shirts, with the exception of a strange basque-and-codpiece arrangement worn by Petruchio.

The entire company are at ease with the material, whether playing male or female (no exaggerated drag performances here, just s femininity of manner), in their own persons or manipulating the puppet-figures. Consequently, this potentially knotty play zooms along with hardly a problem until the final moments. We just about see that Kate's submission to her husband has not rendered her a broken woman that she is still independently minded, and it is merely her aggression that she has eschewed but at this point the production cuts off. We are never properly shown Petruchio ending his "programme" and becoming a worthwhile, loving husband; the sneering and swaggering stops, but he says not a word afterwards. It's an unfortunate problem right at the end of an otherwise excellent evening.

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Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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