The Bride Wore Red

Playing the brute with Janney, Sanders reveals Petruchio's tender side in his soliloquies, handled with a subtle, abashed diffidence, full of apology for the harsh therapeutic measures he's forced to take; Janney, meantime, builds stunning moments of vulnerability into her ferocious displays, increasing in length as the unyielding pressure goes on, till she finally cracks in the sun-and-moon scene. At which point, as again during the last banquet scene's sanctimony, Shapiro has her and Petruchio share a laugh; these two are a matched pair.

Jay O. Sanders and Allison Janney in The Taming of the Shrew: the battle of the sexes, via the World Wrestling Federation
photo: Michael Daniel
Jay O. Sanders and Allison Janney in The Taming of the Shrew: the battle of the sexes, via the World Wrestling Federation

Details

The Taming of the Shrew
By William Shakespeare
Delacorte Theatre
Central Park
539-8750

Not everyone onstage gets so much chance to explore. Erica Alexander's Bianca and Scott Denny's Lucentio are more shoved around than active; Danyon Davis's Biondello is asked only to live up to the fool's cap on his head; and a little of Mario Cantone's Grumio— played as a muscle-man's sissified sidekick out of '30s screwball comedy— would go a long way. On the other hand, Tom Mardirosian is a drolly hapless Baptista (his belated realization that he's gotten rid of Katharina is one of the show's best laughs), and Reg E. Cathey a smart, well-spoken Hortensio. And there's Wright, always seeming to walk (or rather, lurch) in two directions at once, and rarely uttering a phrase without its own special gulp, stammer, or lapse into unintelligible mutter. I haven't seen him this funny since I first came across him, as the infantilized king in Liviu Ciulei's Arena Stage production of Leonce and Lena. Then he seemed the spirit of Harry Langdon come to life; now he's graduated to the dementia of the young Ed Wynn. Either way, he's a sublimely perfect fool. As he wanders off at the end, vowing to tame his wife, while simultaneously picking her a bouquet, he encapsulates both the essence of comedy and the intelligence that peeps out, smilingly, under the evening's good-natured noise and frenzy.

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