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Taming of the Shrew

Every staging has to make choices at the level of both setting and mood: Michael Bogdanov’s 1978 Taming of the Shrew with Jonathan Pryce as Petruchio was modern in dress and unflinching in its representation of the play’s cruelty,

Plot Summary

Christopher Sly, a beggarly tinker, falls asleep drunk, having been thrown out of an ale-house. A lord takes him into his house and plays a trick involving the pretence that Sly is a lord himself, for whose benefit a company of players will act The Taming of the Shrew. The main action then commences. Fortune-hunting Hortensio, rich old Gremio and newly-arrived-in-town Lucentio all wish to court beautiful Bianca, but she cannot marry before her older sister, shrewish Kate. Petruchio vows to woo Kate both for her dowry and for the challenge of overcoming her fearsome reputation. Hortensio and Lucentio gain access to Bianca by disguising while Gregory Doran’s 2003 production used costumes suggestive of the period when the comedy was written but found playfulness and like-mindedness in the relationship between Kate (Alexandra Gilbreath) and Petruchio (Jasper Britton).themselves as tutors, while Lucentio's servant Tranio plays the role of his master. Petruchio marries Kate – turning up late wearing the most unsuitable clothes imaginable – and takes her off to his country house, where he 'tames' her through various forms of deprivation. Tranio persuades a travelling schoolteacher to pretend to be Lucentio's father Vincentio in order to give assurance of Lucentio's financial means; there is confusion when the real Vincentio turns up, but the love-match between Lucentio and Bianca is happily settled. Hortensio marries a wealthy widow and Petruchio and Kate return to reveal that she is a changed woman.


RSC Staging History 1960-2007

Taming of the Shrew

1960 RST/1961 Aldwych/1962 RST: John Barton/Maurice Daniels (re-direction, 1961-62)

Alix Stone (design); John Wyckham (lighting)

Peter O'Toole/Derek Godfrey (Petruchio), Peggy Ashcroft/Vanessa Redgrave (Kate), Peter Jeffrey (Lucentio), James Bree (Tranio), Elizabeth Sellars/Diana Rigg (Bianca), Paul Hardwick/Patrick Wymark (Baptista), Ian Holm/Donald Layne-Smith (Gremio), Tony Church/George Murcell (Hortensio), Patrick Wymark/Clive Swift (Grumio), Dinsdale Landen/Wolfe Morris (Biondello), Edward Argent (Curtis), Roy Dotrice/Peter Russell (Vincentio), Wendy Gifford (A Widow), Clifford Rose/P.G. Stephens (A Tailor), Donald Layne-Smith/John Nettleton (A Pedant), Clive Swift (Peter), William Wallis (Nathaniel), Jack MacGowran/Roy Dotrice (Sly), Ian Richardson/John Warner (A Lord), Diana Rigg (Wench), Philip Voss, David Buck/Gareth Morgan, Peter Geddis (Huntsmen), Mavid Edwards (Hostess), Dennis Waterman (Boy Player)

1967 RST/1967 Aldwych: Trevor Nunn

Christopher Morley (design); John Bradley (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Michael Williams (Petruchio), Janet Suzman (Kate), Robert Lloyd (Lucentio), Charles Thomas (Tranio), June Watts (Bianca), Roy Kinnear (Baptista), Terrence Hardiman (Gremio), Tim Wylton (Hortensio), Patrick Stewart (Grumio), John Kane (Biondello), Richard Simpson (A Tailor), George Cormack (A Pedant), Morgan Sheppard (Sly), Donald Burton (Lord)

1973 RST: Clifford Williams

Farrah (design); John Bradley (lighting)

Alan Bates (Petruchio), Susan Fleetwood (Kate), Peter Machin (Lucentio), David Suchet (Tranio), Louise Jameson (Bianca), Derek Smith (Baptista), Jeffery Dench (Gremio), Anthony Pedley (Hortensio), Brian Glover (Grumio), Nickolas Grace (Biondello), Robert Ashby (Curtis), John Abbott (A Tailor), Denis Holmes (A Pedant), Lloyd McGuire (A Haberdasher)

1978 RST/1979 Aldwych: Michael Bogdanov

Chris Dyer (design); Chris Ellis (lighting); Tony Haynes (music)

Jonathan Pryce (Petruchio), Paola Dionisotti (Kate), Anthony Higgins (Lucentio), Ian Charleson (Tranio), Zoë Wanamaker (Bianca), Paul Brooke (Baptista), Paul Webster (Gremio), David Lyon (Hortensio), David Suchet (Grumio), Allan Hendrick (Biondello), Catherine Riding/Juliet Stevenson (Curtis/A Widow), George Raistrick (Vincentio), James Griffin (A Tailor), Geoffrey Freshwater (A Pedant), Conrad Asquith (A Haberdasher)

1982 RST/1983 Barbican: Barry Kyle

Bob Crowley (design); Brian Harris (lighting); Nick Bicât (music)

Alun Armstrong (Petruchio), Sinéad Cusack (Kate), Mark Rylance (Lucentio), John Bowe (Tranio), Alice Krige (Bianca), David Waller (Baptista), John Carlisle (Gremio), Ian Talbot (Hortensio), Peter Postlethwaite (Grumio), David Shaw-Parker (Biondello), William Haden (Curtis), Edward Jewesbury (Vincentio), Stephanie Fayerman (A Widow), Dennis Clinton (A Tailor), Conrad Asquith (A Pedant), Christine Kavanagh (A Haberdasher), Geoffrey Freshwater (Sly), Raymond Bowers (The Lord), Lesley Sharp (Servant), Ian Talbot, John Carlisle (Huntsmen)

1985 Small-scale Tour: Di Trevis

Pamela Howard (design); Gerry Jenkinson (lighting); Dominic Muldowney (music)

Alfred Molina (Petruchio), Sian Thomas (Kate), Richard Garnett (Lucentio), Nick Dunning (Tranio), Sara Mair-Thomas (Bianca), Wolfe Morris (Baptista), Nigel Anthony (Gremio), Peter Rumney (Hortensio), Geoffrey Freshwater (Grumio), Sonia Ritter (Biondello), Edward Harbour (Vincentio), Linda Polan (A Widow), Michael Troughton (Sly)

1987 RST/1988 Barbican: Jonathan Miller

Stefanos Lazaridis (set), Martin Chitty (costumes); David Cunningham (lighting); Stephen Oliver (music)

Brian Cox (Petruchio), Fiona Shaw (Kate), Alex Jennings (Lucentio), Bruce Alexander (Tranio), Felicity Dean (Bianca), George Raistrick (Baptista), Trevor Martin (Gremio), James Fleet (Hortensio), Barrie Rutter (Grumio), David O'Hara (Biondello), Derek Hutchinson (Curtis), Griffith Jones (Nathaniel), Alan Thompson (Vincentio), Shirley King (A Widow), William Chubb (A Tailor), Dennis Clinton (A Pedant), Piers Ibbotson (A Haberdasher), Sally George, Deborah Goodman/Kate Littlewood (Servants)

1990 Small-scale Tour: Bill Alexander

Tim Goodchild (design); Brian Harris (lighting); Jonathan Goldstein (music)

Gerard Murphy (Petruchio), Naomi Wirthner (Kate), Paul Spence (Lucentio), Brian Parr (Tranio), Sally George (Bianca), Michael Loughnan (Baptista), Stuart Richman (Gremio), Roger Moss (Hortensio), David Shaw Parker (Grumio), Jimmy Gallagher (Biondello), Richard Conway (Vincentio/A Tailor), Jim Hooper (Sly), Charles Daish (Lord Simon), Elaine English (Ruth), Matthew Lloyd Davies (Rupert), Richard Bates (Peter), Sarah Carpenter (Sarah), Alastair Cumming (Hugo)

1992 RST/1993 Barbican: Bill Alexander (main house re-working of 1990)

Tim Goodchild (design); Brian Harris (lighting); Jonathan Goldstein (music)

Anton Lesser (Petruchio), Amanda Harris (Kate), John McAndrew (Lucentio), Richard McCabe (Tranio), Rebecca Saire (Bianca), Trevor Martin (Baptista), Paul Webster (Gremio), Graham Turner (Hortensio), Geoffrey Freshwater (Grumio), Andrew Cryer (Biondello), Ciaran McIntyre (Vincentio/A Tailor), Maxwell Hutcheon (Sly), Dominic Mafham (Lord Simon), Emily Watson (Ruth), Jack Waters (Rupert), Barnaby Kay (Peter), Catherine Mears (Sarah), Dorian MacDonald (Hugo)

1995 RST/1996 Barbican: Gale Edwards

Russell Craig (design); Hugh Vanstone (lighting); Stephen Warbeck (music)

Michael Siberry (Petruchio), Josie Lawrence (Kate), Dermot Kerrigan (Lucentio), Mark Lockyer (Tranio), Tilly Blackwood (Bianca), Clifford Rose (Baptista), James Hayes (Gremio), Timothy Davies (Hortensio), Robin Nedwell (Grumio), Daniel Goode (Biondello), Gary Taylor (Curtis), David Frederickson (Nathaniel), Don Gallagher (A Tailor/Peter), Leon Tanner (A Pedant), Paul Bentall (Lord), Alice Hogg (Servant)

1999 Pit/1999-00 Swan/2000 Small-scale Tour: Lindsay Posner

Ashley Martin-Davis (design); Peter Mumford (lighting); Gary Yershon (music)

Stuart McQuarrie (Petruchio/Sly), Monica Dolan (Kate), Jo Stone-Fewings (Lucentio), Louis Hilyer (Tranio), Charlotte Randle (Bianca), Colin McCormack (Baptista), Christopher Wilkinson (Gremio), Simon Coates (Hortensio), John Lloyd Fillingham (Grumio), Ryan Pope (Biondello), Nicholas Blane (Curtis), Maxwell Hutcheon (Nathaniel/Vincentio), Katherine Grice (A Widow), Sam Troughton (A Tailor)

2003 RST/2004 Queen's: Gregory Doran

Stephen Brimson Lewis (design); Tim Mitchell (lighting); Paul Englishby (music)

Jasper Britton (Petruchio), Alexandra Gilbreath (Kate), Daniel Hawksford (Lucentio), Rory Kinnear (Tranio), Eve Myles (Bianca), Ian Gelder (Baptista), Christopher Godwin (Gremio), Paul Chahidi (Hortensio), Nicolas Tennant (Grumio), Simon Trinder (Biondello), John Lightbody (Curtis), Bill Nash (Nathaniel), David Peart (Vincentio), Esther Ruth Elliot (A Widow), Christopher Harvey (A Tailor), Keith Osborn (A Pedant), Tom Anderson (A Haberdasher), Oliver Maltman (Peter)

For a gallery of over 100 production images from a selection of these productions (and some older ones in the pre-RSC Shakespeare Memorial Theatre), together with sample costumes, pages from promptbooks and other visual materials, go to

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