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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Actor’s Shakespeare Project takes on classic play at Modern Theater

Photo by Ken Yotsukura Photography
Julia Hertzberg, Elena Toppo, Michael Broadhurst, Lisa Tucker, and Mary Mahoney in Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s production of The Taming of the Shrew (2023)

Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s production of “The Taming of the Shrew” opened on Sept. 15. This is the first play of the season for ASP and Suffolk University student Mary Mahoney’s first professional production. 

“I was really nervous going into it because I was like, ‘this is a world that I don’t know about.’ But it has been so rewarding and so fun. I’ve been having a blast,” Mahoney said. 

Mahoney is a theater major at Suffolk and has been acting for as long as she can remember. She auditioned for ASP’s “The Taming of the Shrew” for a final project and was cast this summer. 

This Shakespearean comedy is known for being highly controversial due to its wide-open misogyny. The show’s portrayal of women as submissive, the abuses against the female protagonists and how the male characters are represented as the only heroes in the story is a portrait of the troubles women still face today.  

However, the artistic direction of Christopher V. Edwards takes “The Taming of the Shrew” and questions the text itself. The production follows the sexist, drunk Christopher Sly, played by Michael Broadhurst, as he sees himself as “The Shrew” in a play-within-a-play. The oppressive patriarchy of Padua is constructed by an all-female/non-binary ensemble in a disco bar trying to have the power of being a man and taming Sly through the play.

Designer Ben Liberson sets the tale in a 1970s Bohemian Boston club with a bar, a disco ball, a cigarette machine and colorful ’70s costumes by costume designer Chelsea Kurl. Disco music by sound designer Elizabeth Cahill sets the mood even before curtain calls with plenty of ABBA, Boney M. and other hits from the decade.

One of the most clever aspects of this adaptation is how the cast, except Broadhurst’s Sly/Katherine, uses clown noses when acting in the roles of Shakespeare’s tale. This gives them liberty when they want to free themselves from the Shakespearean languages and show their emotions as the people trying to manipulate Sly through the play. 

Patrice Jean-Baptiste shines while playing Petruchio, who tamed the “Shrew.” Her interpretation of such a disturbed male character is so impressive that the audience applauded her in various scenes.

Joni Weisfield’s witty Tranio makes the audience giggle throughout the entire play. Not to mention the great performances of Lisa Tucker’s Baptista, Julia Hertzberg’s fair Bianca and Bianca’s suitors — Kira Gandolfo’s Hortensio, Jade Guerra’s Gremio and Paige Clark’s Lucentio. The cast has its charms and delivers to the audience an emotional interpretation of the text. 

Mahoney plays eight different characters making up the entire ensemble. 

“It’s been really fun to explore so many different characters in rapid succession, and it’s not one character, but it’s one journey all the way through,” Mahoney said. 

Watching Shakespeare with a modern twist is definitely much more fun compared to the traditional performance style. ASP’s production is made especially for those who are unsure or doubt that those stories can be rewritten and adapted to fit the new audience and question the problems of our society. 

ASP’s “The Taming of the Shrew” is a hidden gem, though the plot might seem heavy and controversial. The audience had the chance to have fun and good laughs while reflecting on the difficulties of being a product of the patriarchy in this troublesome society, no matter the century. 

“The Taming of the Shrew” by ASP is playing until Oct. 1.  

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Elise Coelho, Staff Writer | she/her
Elise is a sophomore from São Paulo, Brazil. She is majoring in philosophy with a minor in journalism. She loves to read, write, listen to music and take pictures. Her favorite band is Maneskin, and most of the time you can find her at a theater watching a musical. After graduation she plans to become an author and share her stories with the world.

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