When actor Vince Leigh said “I’m not playing Petruchio” during our interview, I thought I’d made some horribly embarrassing mistake.
But the Trial and Retribution star went on to explain that Propeller Theatre Company are doing The Taming of the Shrew as Shakespeare wrote it. Another story frames the tale of Petruchio wooing Kate, who is called a shrew because she does not want to be married off by her family.
Vince initially plays Christopher Sly, a tinker who appears drunk and collapses at a wedding. When he wakes up, everyone conspires to pretend he is a wealthy man and The Taming of the Shrew is a play put on to entertain him.
Vince said: “We play the play rather than make it modern. It’s a very harsh play when you go back to the text. Kate is fundamentally a capable, intelligent human being who is sold off and broken. It’s very sad.”
He said that the idea was to avoid pulling the play’s punches and to show how terrible Kate’s predicament is.
He added: “Anyone can be subjugated if they don’t have power, if they’re being controlled by somebody else.
“Kate has a really heartbreaking final speech when she says ‘we finally understand our lances are straws and our bodies are weak. I do what I’m told’. It’s a tragedy.”
Kate initially tries to fight her fate by being unpleasant to any man who dares approach her. By contrast, her sister Bianca is happy to be married and has two suitors pursuing her.
Vince said: “We like to push it both ways. We like to play the comedy to the extreme and the tragedy to the extreme as well. It’s a bag of emotions. People will have a difference of opinion over our production.”
The Taming of the Shrew is at the Lyceum Theatre from next Wednesday to Saturday. Box office: 249 6000 or go to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk