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  Play Details

The Taming of the Shrew

Folger Theatre
201 East Capitol Street, SE Washington

Shakespeare's classic comedy The Taming of the Shrew pits the spirited Katherine against the fortune-seeking Petruchio, who has agreed to woo and marry her as a favor to his old friend Hortensio, who is in love with Bianca, Katherine's younger, more beautiful and more popular sister. The younger sister can only be married after the older one, but Katherine has a notorious temper and thus far no man will have her ... until Petruchio comes along to "tame" her. Setting the Folger Theatre production in the Wild West circa 1880, Helen Hayes Award-winning director Aaron Posner leads real-life husband and wife Cody Nickell and Kate Eastwood Norris in a sparring match enlivened by original music composed and performed by singer-songwriter Cliff Eberhardt.

Thru - Jun 10, 2012



Price: $30-$65

Running Time: 2 hours 30 mins with 1 intermission

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  Review Round-Up

DCTheatreScene - Highly Recommended

Aaron Posner He sets the work in the Wild West of the 1880’s and shows us a society where men are rough and women must toughen up to survive the frontier. It’s a world of gunslingers and grasping greed.
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Susan Galbraith


Washington Post - Not Recommended

"...Presumption of funniness is not exactly a capital offense. But it’s a performer’s crime nevertheless, a rookie sort of miscue that helps to sink Folger Theatre’s ill-conceived spaghetti-western version of “The Taming of the Shrew.”"
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Peter Marks


Washington Examiner - Recommended

"... Cleverly directed by Aaron Posner, this "Shrew" is set about 1880 in the American West, in a saloon (designed by Tony Cisek) where a long bar takes up the entire left side of the stage. On the right side of the stage, stairs lead up to a balcony. Near the stairs sits an essential element of this production: Cliff Eberhardt, who accompanies the action with his songs on piano and guitar."
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Barbara Mackay


MetroWeekly - Somewhat Recommended

"... This certainly isn't the worst Taming of the Shrew you could ever see, but it's surely not the best one, either. (And in a Shakespeare-loving town like Washington, you're bound to have a shot at another production in the near future.) Posner and company have ultimately gone to a lot of trouble to make tepid work out of something that really demands a full acknowledgment of how twisted it is."
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Jonathan Padget


BroadwayWorld - Highly Recommended

"... Shakespeare. Truth be told, in ordinary circumstances, not many are beating down theater doors and knocking over ceramic busts in an effort to catch the latest production of one of England's most prolific playwrights. But when it comes to Folger Theatre's current production of The Taming of the Shrew, they should be. Three words to describe this Wild West rendition: bold, biting, and brilliant."
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Christine Kowal


Talkin Broadway - Highly Recommended

"... The most striking thing about this production is its visual appeal. Helen Q. Huang's costumes have a tactile appeal—from the metallic brocades and deep colors worn by the wealthier characters to Petruchio's backwoods wedding costume—and Tony Cisek's scenic design is sweetly silly in its depiction of Petruchio's rustic home."
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Susan Berlin


City Paper - Highly Recommended

"... As marvelous as the supporting players are, this is Norris and Nickell’s show, and they more than earn it. Nickell, late of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s productions of In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play and Clybourne Park, has managed to appear in several of the best D.C. productions of the last three or four years, growing into one of our most versatile and magnetic leading men. He’s capable of nuance when the role calls for it; this one does not. Although cleverer than he lets on, Petruchio is a swaggering blowhard unafflicted by doubt or decorum, and Nickell is a volatile delight."
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Chris Klimek


Washingtonian - Highly Recommended

"...This show, punctuated with gorgeous original folk songs by Cliff Eberhardt (who plays a blind musician sat in front of a saloon piano), is a treat from start to finish, but troublesome nevertheless. Posner's dispensed with the framing device Shakespeare chose to exonerate himself from the play's stunning misogyny--an elaborate introduction that presented the tale of Katharina and Petruchio as a play-within-a-play, staged for a drunken beggar who thinks he's a nobleman. Instead, the cast themselves introduce the show, which opens with a disconsolate Kate (Kate Eastwood Norris) drowning her sorrows in a whiskey bottle. We don't know why she's so sad, but presumably her chosen lifestyle of furious rages and energetic bar fights isn't quite doing the trick."
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Sophie Gilbert


DC Metro Theater Arts - Highly Recommended

"...Folger Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s classic comedy The Taming of the Shrew, drawing inspiration and influence from the Wild West, circa 1880. Esteemed director Aaron Posner sheds Shakespeare in an entirely different light, with characters line-dancing, spitting, and slinging back shots throughout this rowdy production!"

Julia L. Exline


Washington Diplomat - Recommended

"... Shakespeare traditionalists could argue that the Western genre overpowers the Bard's delicate and heady poetry and nuances. They're right insofar as this theme eventually wears itself out like a well-worn joke. But all in all, the similarities of the two worlds — one in early England and the other in early America — are great enough to warrant their union in this rousing, ambitious and entertaining endeavor."
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Lisa Troshinsky


BrightestYoungThings - Recommended

"... The plot of The Taming of the Shrew involves two sisters, Katherine and Bianca. The elder sister, Katherine is the shrew of the play's title, and in order for her younger sister to marry one of her many potential suitors, Katherine must marry first since she is older. The only problem is that Katherine is a pants-wearing, gun toting, lewd mouthed, whiskey pounding woman, quite disinterested in settling down. Although, when Petrucio rolls into town, he is roused by the challenge and sets out to not only woo Katherine, but tame her in the process. The saloon set is well executed and of great visual interest, the balustrade and staircase providing a great runway for the amount of flouncing that the play contains."
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Rachel Eisley


Washington Blade - Recommended

"...It was while watching the HBO series “Deadwood,” writes/director Aaron Posner in the program notes for Folger Theatre’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” that he first became inspired to set his production in the American West, circa 1890. While Posner admits it’s not a totally original take on the Bard’s battle of the sexes — it’s been done before — the move from Padua to the Old West works: the raucous, defiant aspects of Shakespeare’s early comedy translate quite nicely."
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Patrick Folliard


ShowBizRadio - Recommended

"... The production took the trope of the quintessential Wild West and made it more real. A folk singer, Cliff Eberhardt, was brought in to write and perform original songs for the part of the Blind Balladeer. The temptation would be to use this new character as a narrator, but this production utilized him better as a bridge with the audience to enhance the emotion of the action. The songs made the Old West seem more real, a place where real stories became legend in song because they were honest and worthy of being sung about in the first place."
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Xandra Weaver


MD Theatre Guide - Highly Recommended

"...The director, Aaron Posner in a stroke of brilliance has chosen to set his play in a saloon of the old wild west. This approach to the story works wonderfully and presents the characters in a interesting light. For example Petruchio (Cody Nickell) is portrayed as a scruffy gunslinger and Katherine Minola (Kate Eastwood Norris) the shrew that Petruchio wins is portrayed as an Annie Oakley rough and tumble character. By setting the show in this time frame it says that no matter what time period you set Shakespeare in it still works. Gunplay as opposed to swordplay says the same thing and the themes are timeless."
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Elliot Lanes



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