The Auckland Performing Arts Centre: TAPAC, Auckland

24/01/2008 - 27/01/2008

Production Details

Shrew’d young things prove to be knockout performers 

The talented winners of OpenCall 07 take to the stage this summer in a dynamic production inspired by The Taming of the Shrew

OpenCall 07 was a NZ Post and Auckland Theatre Company initiative, hundreds of aspiring actors from around the country went online to audition and fight it out for a spot in Shrew’d.

The ten successful actors have proven to be a plethora of talent, flair and personality. While still in rehearsals it is obvious to all involved that Shrew’d is shaping up to be an energized and spontaneous show.  Experienced director Margaret-Mary Hollins explains "The cast has thrown themselves into the play with gusto – they punch, leap, slide and fling themselves about".  

The constant flow of ideas in rehearsals has meant the script has literally been rewritten.  Audiences need not fear a traditional Shakespearian play, Shrew’d is a production that is loud, interactive and full of surprises! 

SHREW’D plays

TAPAC – Auckland Performing Arts Centre
Motions Rd, Western Springs (opposite the zoo)
Thursday Jan 24 – Sunday Jan 27 2008

Show Times: Thursday – Sunday 8pm Matinees 26th & 27th January 2pm
Ticket Prices: Adult $30 Senior Citizen $26 Student $15 GENERAL
Book at TICKETEK on sale 7th January 2008    

Shaking up the Shrew

Review by Shannon Huse 07th Feb 2008

If you like your Shakespeare straight-up in a traditional theatre you may want to steer clear of Shrew’d, which is total immersion Bard-antics for the YouTube generation.

This energetic and inventive production was inspired by Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and John Fletcher’s answer to that play written 17 years later, The Tamer Tamed.

It features the talents of the 10 winners of Auckland Theatre Company’s first "open-call" auditions who lead their audience on a merry dance around the Tapac centre in Motions Rd from the lawn outside and then on and around the stage. [More]


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Pure entertainment

Review by Nik Smythe 26th Jan 2008

In this,  their first production for 2008, is the most vibrant, engaging and truly alive 90 odd minutes of theatre I have ever witnessed from Auckland Theatre Company.  From the moment we are ushered to the outdoor auditorium for the first act the exuberant young cast have me engaging readily with their comic follies, these larger than life caricatures seeming oddly natural. 

Luke Bird and Omer Gilroy excel as gauche antipodean hosts Stella and Rodrigo, grown up childhood sweethearts from Te Kuiti as one might expect in a modern Shakespeare.

The cast of ten, pared down from an online call which over two hundred hopefuls originally auditioned for around the country, range from high-school age to early twenties.  The confidence and the clear respect and trust shared between them belies the short time they have been working together (less than three weeks rehearsal time!).

Wealthy patriarch Baptista (Vasa Tasele) offers up a handsome reward to anyone who will woo his feisty and irreverent daughter Kate (Julia Croft) in the portable boxing ring.  Various attempts are made by the auxiliary cast, (a classic old British music hall style trio strangely credited only as ‘crew’ in the programme).  Then Petruccio comes forward in the large visage of Omar Al-Sobky and as he and Kate hurl each other about we get the first bit of actual Shakespeare, to whit, the wooing of Kate. 

This sets us up with a taste of what’s to come.  The audience is invited through to the reception party in the theatre, although we’re left waiting in line in the hall for five minutes, hearing the cast partying away inside, like we’re trying to get into studio 54.  Altogether, there are too many notable characterisations and impressive theatrical elements to note.

The plot focuses solely on the relationship of Kate and Petruccio; Bianca (Sara Stone) and her Beau Hortensio (Ben Cain) are sideline characters, giving Stone the space for the normally sweet, convivial Bianca to have a more violent and angry personality. 

There is no obvious philosophical soapboxing on the gender-political implications of Shakespeare’s controversial comedy, that’s just not the point.  And there’s no hiding behind the bard’s most eloquent text, which is utilised sparingly amongst the chaotic adventurings of the plucky cast.  Just when we think it’s ended, we’re treated to an encore of sorts with Roger Fletcher’s The Tamer Tamed, a kind of sequel written 17 years later in which Kate takes the upper hand and deals Petruccio the kind of treatment that many would say he deserves.

Literally the behind-the-scenes star of the show, Simon Coleman has composed a succession of sets which repeatedly surprise and delight, adding extra lift to the increasing stakes of the narrative.  Estelle Macdonald’s costume design was obviously a big fun job as well, and the choreography of Carla Martell matches the world-class quality of all the rest. 


Director/adaptor Margaret Mary Hollins has obviously been a mighty inspiration for the young ensemble, as they have also been to each other.  There is an inescapable sense that this production is really worth being a part of.  The seemingly spontaneous, random collection of acting styles and musical choices (also Hollins) remind me of a good night at theatresports, but feature length; a kind of theatresports marathon maybe.


So why the Shrew?  I often wonder this about this and other Shakespearean comedies – how many more versions do we need, all claiming to be new and original and all being clever and different in the same kinds of ways.  After the wild ride that is Shrew’d, the clear response to the question is well, why not?  Any well known tale to mount such a potent concoction of young powerhouse comedy genii is welcome when it results in as pure an entertainment as this. 


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