The Taming of the Shrew

It’s often hard to find anything particularly original about an original adaptation of any of Shakespeare's great plays these days, but The Taming of the Shrew done in traditional Korean style, plus an added bit of hip hop, is surely a first. The production deals with big topics, but still brings some fun to the table. However, like many contemporary Shakespeare adaptations that have come before it, the production has a little difficulty successfully merging its ideas to the text.

Moments of real beauty which make for a reliably watchable show.

One of the highlights of the production is the overall aesthetic. The traditional Korean costumes were absolutely phenomenal: a real treat to watch, with bright colours and bold designs. Due to the large cast size and multiple costumes changes, there is plenty to look at. Another traditional Korean element that shines is the live drumming group that performed at the weddings, who really brought the show to life.

There are elements of comedy mixed in throughout from dance routines to races, but a lot of those element didn’t hit. In particular, a scene where the men compete to not become erect when receiving lap dances comes across as disjointed relative to the rest of the production.

At times the story is difficult to follow, with the one-hour abridged production missing out some plot points. Alongside this, a combination of Shakespearian dialogue and thick Korean accents leads to much of the dialogue being lost. And the production, which claims that one of its themes is feminism, did not attempt at all to condemn the actions of Petruchio in his efforts to silence women.

Although the play is interesting conceptually, and very different to the Shakespeare that most of us are familiar with, it falls short in many aspects. The show simply does not come across as a cohesive performance, possibly as a result of too many conflicting ideas. Regardless, there are moments of real beauty which make for a reliably watchable show. 

Reviews by Gillian Bain

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Stunningly original Korean update of the classic play returns to Edinburgh. Confucius meets Shakespeare with a dash of hip hop thrown in for good measure. Petruchio, a patriarch of the Confucian dynasty, tries to tame hip hop Kate into a traditional obedient woman, but who will win in the end? This critically acclaimed worldwide tour returns to Edinburgh. Traditional meets modern as beautiful Korean costumes and instruments fuse with hip hop dance and Western music. But can there ever be harmony between Confucian patriarchalism and feminism? Between West and East? ‘A sure fire winner' (FringeReview.com).