Gillian English hates The Taming Of The Shrew. She really hates it. In fact, she’s not much of a fan of Shakespeare at all, actually, which is surprising considering she trained in Shakespearean theatre at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. But despite studying him rigorously in one of her two (or was it three?) arts degrees, she still spends an hour ripping the bard to shreds. His crimes? Misogyny, propaganda and just about everything in-between.
A feminist Shakespeare critique for the internet age
With song, dance and a lot of swearing, English creates a compelling argument against the Shakespearean comedy in the style of a Buzzfeed listicle. As the show continues, she preaches her hatred for the play with such intensity that you feel like might have clicked next too many times and ended up at some kind of bizarre Youtube channel for Shakespeare-truthers.
But, Gillian English is so much more than just an angry Shakespeare sceptic. She’s also really very funny. Her delivery is excellent and her natural charisma gets a giggle out of every member of the Monday night crowd. At times, her Canadian references go over the heads of a few of members of the British audience, but her way with words and quick wit is undeniable. Particular highlights include referring to her breasts as 'benippled fat sacks', as well as a rather graphic demonstration of how to rip off someone’s penis.
In amongst the explicit gags, she adds an impressive array of pop culture references to the mix. Poking fun at that scene in the Fyre Festival documentary, as well as taking aim at worthy targets including Louis CK, Bill Crosby and pretty much every man that wears a romper.
Although she does drop in a good portion of Julia Styles references, fans of the 1999 Shakespeare adaptation might be disappointed to know that the show is less about the film itself and more about how archaic misogynist tropes are regurgitated by lazy ‘content aggregators’ time and time again.
A feminist Shakespeare critique for the internet age, 10 Things I Hate About Taming of the Shrew is definitely not one for the purists. If you’re precious about old Willy, then it’s probably best to steer clear. But if you’re there (like I was) for 00s pop culture references and an angry feminist rant, then you’re in for a bloody good time.