C Theatre Company gives George Alexander Louis’ recent entry into the world a brilliant twist. As Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton squabble outside the hospital doors, they begin to reminisce about what Kate used to be like. So begins a scintillating version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, realigned to follow our monarchy’s contemporary love story.
The tales meld wonderfully together. Kate Middleton really would, it seems, have made a fantastic goth shrew and Prince William Petruchio’s dark and dangerous side is rather more appealing than our future king’s receding hairline. Everyone leaves secretly wishing he could have got married in a tutu and a denim jacket reading ‘Big Willie’. The set-up also means that flirty and highly desired Pippa Bianca is able to showcase her behind at the service to a proper anthem. The concept presents a whirlwind of irony, good-natured mockery and originality: Will sets out to tame ‘Kate the Cursed’ while his very horny younger brother masquerades as Pippa’s lute teacher. It’s difficult to bring much to Shakespeare that feels genuinely innovative but this truly aces it.
The construct also benefits from the solid support of a team of skilful actors. Each member of the cast brings a repertoire of elastic facial expressions to the table – particularly Will Jennings (Lucentio) and Michael Lapham (Baptista Middleton), who make the more minor characters of the show epicentres of hilarity. Director Cecily Boys further enhances the troupe’s performance with an ingenious use of soundtrack; the ballads of the bard find their spicy 21st century counterparts. Everything is so well brought together that the audience becomes utterly oblivious to the complete absence of the stage’s set.
It’s a slight shame that the play finishes with Katharina’s monologue, as its nature seems inconsistent with the joviality of the adaptation: preaching a woman’s submission to her husband detracts a little from a modern day comedy. Given the superb quality of the production as a whole, however, this is a minor point. Overall, The Reclaiming of the Shrew is Shakespeare made so entertaining and accessible that you will forget all about your free croissant.