A Telling Retell: 10 Things I Hate About Taming of the Shrew

4 stars

Gillian English is angry. Angry at a world that continues to promulgate stories of misogyny, of violence against women, and worse, permit those stories to be sadly accurate reflections of the world itself.

Fortunately, English isn’t one to simply lament the fact. Instead, she’s doing everything she can to tear off the dick of injustice and common indecency.

Image courtesy of Dahlia Katz

Image courtesy of Dahlia Katz

Like the show She Wolf, 10 Things I Hate About Taming of the Shrew takes aim firmly at Shakespeare, but this time English brings the discussion forward to the almost modern day, including the more recent retellings of his work and describing exactly why they are just as terrible.

English is extremely well-versed in the material (after all, a Master’s degree in the subject carries a certain gravitas) and therefore well-equipped to outline in great detail the issues that she’s annihilating.

It’s a structure that serves to carry the show forward, but doesn’t make it feel restrained or limited. English still takes the opportunity to cast her net wide, telling some stories that fans of her work will find familiar but no less amusing for their inclusion.

The intersectional feminism of English’s work, unlike the protofeminism Shakespeare’s plays are disconcertingly labelled as, creates a wholly inclusive, pro-equality experience. It could be considered confronting, but only if you’re the sort of man that can’t keep his hands (or junk) to himself, or cheers for yet another male-voiced retelling of a male-voiced story centred around violence against women.

Over the course of the show, English skips between the deep-rooted problems of the classic literature and the repeated reminders that, while the stories are old, they’ve been retold a thousand times over and the inherently flawed society that they are depicting—and in an ouroboros of fuckery, reinforcing—remains.

English’s storytelling style allows her to present the show as more of a seminar than stand-up comedy. She’ll regale the audience with personal anecdotes, cast her arms wide with sheer frustration at the shitiness of things, and bark her suitably violent opposition in a demonstration of her range.

Shakespeare is still treated as an inviolate monument to high culture, and English tears that monument down like a one-woman angry mob. It’s about time the story changes.

Tickets available from the FRINGE WORLD website.