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“The Taming of the Shrew?”

I always enjoy Breakaway’s productions at the Inn on the Park, which is very suitable for Shakespeare, creating a charming ambience, with the sun shining, the birds singing and eventually the moon coming up – plus a good production to boot!

In the main the cast projected well, which is needed for an outdoor production, however, it depended on where you were sitting, and I always sit near to the back, and was on the right as you look at the stage, so any action on stage right needed to be more pronounced at times.

I was pleased I read the Director’s notes beforehand, as it explained the setting in modern times, and the use of both gay and straight relationships, otherwise I might have struggled!

Liz Mills was a very good Lucentia, bright and well-projected, her asides and points were well made, amusing and interesting.  Her relationship with Trania (Shelley Healy) was nicely presented by both ladies, a certain mischievousness and lightness in their portrayals was great.

I enjoyed Graeme Shaw’s blustering, stuttering, bumbling Baptista, the Hor-Hor-Hortensia was a good example, he made the character interesting and fun.

The pairing of Danny Smith and Susie Wyeth as Petruchio and Katherina was good, they reacted well to each other, plenty of comedy and also more serious parts, which they accomplished well.  Petruchio was also presented as a very cheeky guy, but one who enjoyed trying to tame his shrew!!  Katherina showed her responses to Petruchio very well, and really went for her protagonists, which gave good dimension to the production.  I also loved her closing speech. Good pace and contrasts between these two characters.

Ellie Holliday was a charming Bianca, perhaps needed a little more assertion at times, good portrayal.

Gremia was a good part for Jill Hardman, plenty of facial expressions, and every word as clear as a bell.

I must admit I preferred Lesley Cowland in her Bat Out of Hell T-Shirt and black wig, to the more refined Hortensia.  It gave her the chance to really give a character performance which I enjoyed.

Biondello was well played by Roy Bookham, slightly bemused by the goings on, and I loved Lucentia’s reaction to the presumed smell of alcohol from Biondello on his first entrance.  Little things like that help to keep the brightness in a production.

Grumia, the slightly worn down servant to Petruchio was nicely played by Margie Skinner, a little more emphasis on some of her words would have made them more telling, but loved some of the ‘business’ between her and Petruchio, regarding hankies etc.

David Martin created two good characters, the small part of Curtis, and then as Vincentio.  David has such a lovely characterful face that can adapt so well to the different people he has to play.

Alessia Procaccini played two smaller parts, the Tailor and the Widow, both essential to the plot, but I was hoping for a little more variation between the two, although projection was good at all times.

Our final character was the Pedant, played with her usual exuberance and understanding by Abigail Giles.  A lovely actor who gives her all to a part.

Costumes were suitable for the period the play was set in, and suited the characters well.

Overall a good production, perhaps a little tightening up on lib by a couple of actors who struggled for words occasionally, but mostly good pace and contrasts.

Breakaway Theatre Company


Director: Clare Waller

review date: 28th June 2018

Inn on the Park, St.Albans


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