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The Taming of the Shrew Is Chauvinistic. How Does a Modern Director Deal With That?

Melissa Chalsma as Katherine and Luis Galindo as Petruchio

Photo by Grettel CortesMelissa Chalsma as Katherine and Luis Galindo as Petruchio

How does — or should — a modern director deal with the egregious chauvinism in The Taming of the Shrew? While there are ways, you won’t uncover them in director David Melville‘s current staging, on display weekends in Griffith Park.

Melville pretty much ignores political correctness and concentrates instead on exploiting the opportunities in the play for physical comedy or visual gags. These include food fights, roller skates, shattered guitars with holes as big as a person’s face and outrageous costuming (especially of Petruchio, played by Luis Galindo, who disrobes at his wedding to reveal flamboyant underwear in the front, his bottom bare in the back).

However much these elements may or may not appeal, they can’t compensate for the missing chemistry between the principal performers — Melissa Chalsma, who plays the virago of the title, and Galindo as the man who would tame her.

Separately, their performances are adequate but unexciting. As Katherine, Chalsma stomps about, a sour, bad-tempered individual. It’s a cerebral display, with minimal effort invested in revealing motive or insight into this frustrated woman’s perspective.

As Petruchio, Galindo is also limited. His character is a garden-variety opportunist — neither swaggeringly virile nor seemingly possessed of any particular shrewdness with regard to what makes Katherine tick.

Of course, a good deal more transpires onstage apart from confrontations between this mismatched pair, but the dynamics of their relationship are the heart of the play.

While the rest of the ensemble lends able support, no one performance stands out and the production, while pleasant, never takes flight.

The Old Zoo in Griffith Park, Hlywd.; through Aug. 29. 818-710-6306, www.iscla.org.



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