Taming of the Shrew

Rated 4.0

Moving a Shakespeare comedy into cowboy gear is a proven concept. Just last summer, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s The Comedy of Errors brimmed with six-guns, abundant physical comedy and sonic references to movie Westerns. Director Peggy Shannon applies the same idea to the Sacramento Theatre Company (STC) production of Taming of the Shrew and even features two players from the Tahoe show. It’s a big production, with eight Equity actors, several community actors who’ve worked professionally and a platoon of young adults from the STC-2 Young Professionals.

Petruchio (Matt K. Miller) is a gambler who, inexplicably, never handles a deck of cards. He’s seeking a bride who comes with money attached, and he doesn’t care that she’s renowned for her sharp tongue. The object of Petruchio’s desire—“love” is too grand a term—is Kate (Saffron Henke). She comes on tough, dealing with male adversaries the way a Chinese princess dispatches ordinary thugs in a kung-fu film.

There are several good supporting performances, including Kyle Haden as Petruchio’s man Grumio. (Haden’s also the fight director). Also solid are Philip Charles Sneed as the fatherly Baptista and Allen Pontes as the aging suitor Gremio—both have played Petruchio in past productions regionally.

Shannon eventually works the cowboy theme and the physical comedy a bit too hard, and the Western accents dilute the sharp language just a tad in this “comedy of insults” between unlikely marriage partners. But it’s a consistently funny show, very quick on its feet, and Shannon’s reading of the script makes sense.