It’s Thursday morning and I’m watching “The Daily Show” from the night before and The Wife comes in and says,
“Guess what we’re doing tonight?”
“No. We’re going to Forest Park for this year’s Shakespeare Festival. They’re doing ‘The Taming of the Shrew.'”
“I didn’t say I’m going. I said we’re going.”
“It’s so hot. Why do I have to go?”
“Because, frankly, the Report is getting too nerdy. It’s all comic books and dinosaurs and comic book movies and imaginary conversations. You need to expand your reach. Bring some class to your website. It’s on the World Wide Web, do you want everyone in the world to think you’re a hopeless nerd?”
“I think it’s too late for that.”
“Pack the picnic basket, grab a bottle of wine and meet me at my mom’s house at 6.”
“Should I invite the rest of the gang?”
“Why bother? They’ve never attended a single Shakespeare event with us in all this time.”
“Yeah, wonder why that is. Wait — West Pod went with us one year.”
“True. West Pod is the classiest clique you hang with. But Eric and Luisa are in New York now and Cales has a baby and a toddler, so I doubt she and Aaron can make it.”
“Yeah, if I had any babysitting credit I’d hate to use it on Shakespeare.”
“I will see you at 6. Bring two bottles of wine.”
And so it was that Thursday night we attended the 11th annual Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. The Wife’s friend-on-the-inside told her we should find sit on the right side of the stage as that’s where most of the action is. Apparently the memo had leaked because there was already a crowd at stage right.
We wound up setting up our chairs in a slight dip. I had a slightly obstructed view, but, well, I didn’t care. They should think about putting stadium seating in Forest Park.
“Look at all these people. St. Louis loves Shakespeare.”
“St. Louis loves free. If they had a Dog-Scratching-Itself Festival here that was free it would draw a crowd.”
The stage was designed to look like some 1950s back yard. Uh oh. This is going to be one of those productions where they take Shakespeare and screw around with the setting. My Wife — The Shakespeare Purist — hates that kind of thing.
“Uh, did Shakespeare write ‘Taming of the Shrew’ to take place in the ’50s?”
“You hate this kind of thing, don’t you?”
“I prefer that they perform it the way the Bard intended. Sometimes these changes are tolerable, as long as they don’t mess with it too much.”
For the Shakespeare-impaired, “Shrew” is the one where this guy has two daughters — Kate the elder, who’s a shrew, and Bianca the younger, who’s easy. Or at least not a shrew.
Petruchio decides to marry Kate for the money. To make her more suitable for matrimony, Petru puts Kate through a couple days of starvation and sleep deprivation. Today we call that “enhanced interrogation,” in the 1500s we called it “taming.”
There’s a subplot involving Bianca’s suitors but I couldn’t begin to tell you what that was about. People kept switching identities and…I dunno. Even reading a plot synopsis doesn’t help.
It’s a decent show. The cast was fine and it’s thankfully short for live theater. After about the fifth time the cast sang “Going to the Chapel,” I figured they had messed with it too much. Oh, and Johnny Cash in a Shakespeare play — two great tastes that don’t go great together. The Wife enjoyed it but wasn’t crazy about the changes.
I’m just glad I’ve filled in my culture quota for a while. “Green Lantern” opens next week!
‘The Taming of the Shrew’ runs through June 19. www.shakespearefestivalstlouis.org