Are you a bad enough dude to watch Shakespeare? The bottom-line: four-and-a-half ass smacks out of five. Too bitchin’ for its own good!
The third show of six in Yuba College’s public event series was a flavorful adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” By flavorful, I mean a hard to chew and difficult to swallow, gritty, sleazy, smelly and sweaty thing… chromatic—yet drab in color—all the while pulsating to a heavy industrial beat from an oversized boombox and fist-pumping in your mouth. This version of Shakespeare featured lounge music, Miami fashion, slap-stick humor and pro wrestling. I’ve gotta tell ya: Shakespeare set in the 1980s is grody to the max.
Surprised? Perhaps not if you are familiar with modern revisions of the play. I was taken aback after seeing the drunkard Christopher Sly (played by Anthony Mendoza) impeccably dressed in a custom-fit deepened V-neck sports coat helped to his feet by the nameless lord (played by Ramio Tomas Hemandez) and his huntsman and servants garbed in fancy clothes you’d see on dummies in an Armani or Gucci catalog. Honestly, I had prepared this spectacle to be a mockery upon the bard’s tale—some disrespectful and modernized imagining that would make even the most conniving revisionist fawn with glee. I am happy to say I was wrong on both counts. No changes to the classic dialogues were made to accommodate today’s viewers (thereby tarnishing Shakespeare’s ingenuity) and the 1980s aren’t exactly contemporary, are they? So it’s still classic in its own bangin’ way.
Throughout the play, the costumes became more ridiculous, but more entertaining. Petruchio, once thought of as an eccentric gentleman covered in puffy bright colors, is now the slickest Bogart on stage. Played by Anthony Martinez, he sported a short devilock and a baby blue two-piece suit while he wooed the shrew Katherine played by Alyssa Patterson. And what about the title-piece shrew? What did Kate look like? She traded in her long flowing Elizabethan gown for a black and pink top and a pair of yoga pants! Oh yes, rather than the portrayal of Kate as a lady of high-class leisure, she is now a bodacious bimbette rockin’ wavy blonde curls! The costume aesthetics were at the forefront of the visuals, which was good, because its presentation more than made up for the bland stage set and commonplace props, though the use of bicycles, skateboards and yo-yos were an interesting integration to the bombastic 1980s package. Truly, the play was the lovechild of Shakespeare, Grease, and Saturday Night Fever.
As a whole, the acting of the play was fair, albeit a few scenes after intermission were lack luster in its cohesion and performance. However, I would like to give distinction to the actors CJ Street, who played the role of Gremio, and Jeff Ferreira, who filled the role of Hortensio. Together, their body language, presence and voice brought their characters to life into such a dimension that I believe their scene where they call their truce and garner friendship was the highlight of the first act. Also, Ferreira’s hilarious skits when he is disguised as an Eastern music tutor were comedy gold. Indeed, Street’s and Ferreira’s portrayal of the two gentlemen of Padua exemplify what Yuba College’s theater program is capable of producing.
Unless you have beef or damage with exciting entertainment, you really oughta catch more functions directed by Geoffery Wander. Also, be sure to do yourself a favor and pencil yourself in for an upcoming event such as the Kalama Brothers gig in December. Surely it’s better than spending another Saturday night as a mall maggot.
Note: This article was featured in the Prospector Winter 2013 Print Edition