(Jose Guzman and James Jager as Petruchio and Grumio. Photo by Teresa Castracane)
Being a Brit, and a literature graduate with a penchant for Shakespeare, and three leading roles under my belt, I had great hopes for this outdoor Shakespeare production of the Taming of the Shrew by the much-revered Chesapeake Shakespeare company.
Performing at the Patapsco Female Institute for a family-friendly performance, we decided to take my five-year old son along so that he could have his first Shakespeare experience.
His interest in the puppet version for kids that took place five minutes beforehand didn’t grab his attention and he decided to climb a tree instead, so I was anxious that this was going to be A LONG NIGHT.
But, as the show began with modern pop music – a running theme that broke away from the traditional lyre music of Shakespeare – we were off to a good start.
I’ve performed as Viola in Twelfth Night and there are many hazards, but these guys knew their stuff; the weather stayed perfectly dry and the natural amphitheater of the setting allowed the voices to be carried above the sound of the odd overhead plane.
Initially my English ear recoiled at the American accents delivering my beloved Shakespearean lines, but after five minutes I forgot about the accents because the cast delivered the prose and verse so brilliantly with passion, meaning and a twinkle in their eyes. These guys loved Shakespeare, and that’s wonderful to see.
As for my son?
He spent the first few acts (before the ‘adverts’ as he called the interval) sitting ON THE STAGE. The production manager whispered to me that he was fine and it was wonderful to see a five-year-old so engaged and absorbed in Shakespeare. My heart swelled with pride – a Shakespearean actor in the making, perhaps?!
Many people commented to us how super it was see a child of his age entranced like that in the show. He laughed along and clapped, and got all embarrassed when Pertruchio (Jose Guzman) and Kate (Molly Moores) kissed.
And again, that is credit to these actors and the director and production team, for putting on a fabulously entertaining show, and for bringing a colorful, vibrant production to the masses.
This production of the Shrew blew me out of the water, because it was musically enchanting, the characters were full of life, and they took it along a fair pace, with some fantastic interactions with the audience. A truly feisty Kate, a charming and arrogant Petruchio, and a very versatile group of players all round, it was a feast on the eyes and the ears.
I’ve never fallen out of the love with the Bard, I just haven’t seen much of him lately, and now our relationship is back on track, our love re-ignited with a passion, I might even think about treading the boards again myself – and I expect I’ll be requesting any additional parts for five year olds too…..
In fact, I asked my son to give me a synopsis of the play as we weaved our way home at dusk and he spoke thus:
‘So the funny man made the angry lady not angry anymore and they became boyfriend and girlfriend.’
‘Um, sort of correct.’
‘All ladies are a little bit angry.’
‘Yes, daddy told me……’
Check out the show, you won’t be disappointed. Bring your kids. They will love it.
Taming of the Shrew
Directed by Ian Gallanar, Founding Artistic Director, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company
June 21 – August 4 Taming of the Shrew
Wednesday-Saturday performances at 8 p.m. and Sunday performances at 6 p.m.
Gates open 90 minutes before the performance. Picnics are welcome, and wine and beer are allowed in the park. Open seating under the stars, our chairs or your blanket. Check the website for show schedules and details.
WHERE: Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, 3691 Sarah’s Lane, Ellicott City 21043
HOW: Purchase tickets online here. or call 410-313-8661.
Claire Bolden McGill is a British expat who lived in Maryland for three years and moved back to the UK in August 2015. Claire wrote about her life as a British expat on the East Coast and now works in travel and hospitality PR in the UK. She still finds time to blog about her repatriation and the reverse culture shock that ensued – and she still hasn’t finished that novel, but she’s working on it. You can contact Claire via twitter on @clairebmcgill or via her blog From America to England.