Review: The Taming of the Shrew, Lyceum

Dan Wheeler (Kate) and Vince Leigh (Petruchio) in the Taming of the Shrew
Dan Wheeler (Kate) and Vince Leigh (Petruchio) in the Taming of the Shrew
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This is always an uncomfortable play for me as it gets laughs out of a woman pushed into marriage and humiliated to make her obedient to her husband.

Theatre company Propeller, which has an all-male cast, feel the same way and don’t pull their punches as other productions do. They deal with Shakespeare’s subject matter by emphasising the brutality of the way Kate (Dan Wheeler) is treated by Petruchio (Vince Leigh).

Kate is called a shrew because she doesn’t want to be married but her dad decides that her younger sister Bianca can’t wed any of her suitors until Kate has gone down the aisle.

Petruchio is persuaded to grab the girl and the dowry and Bianca’s suitors disguise themselves as tutors to get near Bianca and press their claims.

The comedy comes about as various characters pose as someone else and end up in sticky situations.

Vince Leigh excellently transforms from charmer to chilling villain and Dan Wheeler brilliantly plays someone who is angry then confused and eventually beaten down.

Her early feistiness is brilliantly brash and the times when he clashes with her sister are beautifully done. Arthur Wilson is also a convincingly coquettish Bianca.

The whole cast are very strong, ramping up the laughs as well as the drama, and the use of live music is interesting.

But this is still not Propeller at their brilliant best as it never quite took off. The costumes, which looked like a weird random fancy dress party, didn’t help matters either.