Bard On The Beach : Taming Of The Shrew

The 30th Season of Bard on the Beach is underway, with Taming of the Shrew starting the season under the tents at Vanier Park. There are few spots in Vancouver nicer to spend a summer evening, add in a new adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s classic comedies by a brilliant company and it’s a near perfect theatre experience.

Bard on the Beach Taming of the Shrew Image: Emily Cooper

Taming of the Shrew tells the story of the fair Bianca and her sister, foul Katherine (Kate), and their suitors. Lady Baptista, the sister’s mother, has decreed that Bianca may not marry until after the elder Katherine is suitably married, much to the chagrin of Bianca’s many admirers. Seeing mutual benefit from working together, Bianca’s beaus conspire to find a husband for the shrewish Kate. Success comes with the arrival of Petruchio, who, in need of her large dowry, steps up to the challenge. Upon marriage, Petruchio ‘breaks’ Kate with a series of psychological gamesmanship and returns to Padua victorious in his taming of the shrew…or was he?

Shifted from late 16th Century Italy to the late 1800s America West, Director Lois Anderson has created a play that fits well into its new era. Costume Designer Mara Gottler and Set Designer Cory Sincennes have crafted a look straight out of Gunsmoke.

Jennifer Lines & Andrew McNee | Photo: Tim Matheson
Taming Of The Shrew
Jennifer Lines & Andrew McNee
Photo: Tim Matheson

Leading the cast, Jennifer Lines and Andrew McNee play off of each nicely as Kate and Petruchio. Ms Lines’ intense and dramatic Kate contrasts with McNee’s comedic skills and mugging. Kate Besworth’s sweet, giggling Bianca was a contrast to Line’s abrupt character. Kamyar Pazandeh’s Lucentio, stood out amongst Bianca’s many suitors. Portraying his servant Triano, Chirag Naik is always dependable, both the character and actor.

At 2.5 hours, the light comedy is nicely paced to keep the show moving and manages to avoid feeling long. See for yourself why Taming of the Shrew makes for an enjoyable Spaghetti Western / Shakespearean mash-up.

Taming of the Shrew runs, in repertoire with Shakespeare In Love, until September 21, 2019 at Bard on the Beach tents at Vanier Park (behind Museum of Vancouver). Information and tickets are available online at bardonthebeach.org.

Bard On The Beach – Macbeth

Western Canada’s largest Shakespeare Festival, now in its 23rd season, presents four rotating shows this season; Macbeth, Taming Of The Shrew, Merry Wives Of Windsor and King John. Ashamedly, I’ve never attended Bard On The Beach before, so I remedied that recently with a performance of Macbeth.

Although the ground was wet and soggy from a deluge of afternoon rain, amongst the tented stages in the ‘Bard Village’ it was quite comfortable, a gift shop, two efficient concessions and ample washroom facilities make the pre-show/intermissions go by quickly. Seated in the Main Stage seats you’d be forgiven for forgetting you were in a temporary theatre, except for the open air behind the stage, there’s little evidence of the elements outside.  However, the audience was reminded of the open air a couple moments when an air ambulance helicopter quickly passed overhead and then a party boat playing thumping beats drifted by on the water.

The classic tale of deceit, power and murder that is Macbeth was well interpreted, while sticking true to the original bloody and violent work.  The great cast was powerfully lead by, Bard regular, Bob Frazer as Macbeth and Colleen Wheeler as Lady Macbeth.  Both portrayed the anger, angst and anguish of the title characters with full force. While there was a couple of occasions that certain actors voices got a bit lost in the open air, the overall production was spot on.

Bard On The Beach Shakespeare Festival is located under the tents at Vanier Park on Kits Point. Parking is available at the nearby Museum of Vancouver/Science Centre, Boat Launch and gravel parking lot across the street. Regular evening tickets are just $40.