Clad in a fabulous sequinned playsuit and tinsel bolero, English (Canadian by birth, Tasmanian by residence, English by name and by drama school training) unashamedly takes Shakespeare and his apologists to task for what is a deeply problematic, and bizarrely frequently defended, part of the Shakespearean canon, walking us through her biggest issues with Taming Of The Shrew and taking in the popular 90s movie ‘adaptation’ 10 Things I Hate About You and her own experiences as a woman living in the modern world in the process. Issues on the table include the breaking of bonds of female solidarity, the dangerous trope of being ‘cruel to be kind’, and issues of gaslighting.
Its bold, stand-up style belies how smart it, and English, really are; a trait uncovered when English decodes the lyrics of one of the 10 Things songs to simultaneously decode its semiotics and those of Shrew. I particularly enjoyed these sections as a viewer and could have done with even more in this vein.
Preventing all of this from becoming too preachy is the fact that it’s all very, very funny. The jokes are high-density, coming thick and fast. English has a stock vocabulary of moves and gags - she does the same jazz-hands pose to land a joke 10+ times - but it works, effectively enough that English can switch up the energy at will, seriously discussing rape culture in the modern world one minute and having us laughing again the next.
At 1 hour 20 minutes, It’s a smidgen long (though this may have been a function of a late-night slot at Wandsworth Fringe) and there is a slight sloping off towards the end of the show. That said, 10 Things I Hate About Taming Of The Shrew is a great fun show; suitable for comedy lovers and Shakespeare buffs alike. Catch this if you can as it goes round the country and lands at the Free Fringe in Edinburgh (free!)