By Nikki Hedrick
Emerald Coast Theatre Company and Grand Boulevard present an abridged version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew for all ages.
Every Thursday starting at 7 p.m., Abrakadoodle helps kids create Elizabethan collars and other crafts connected to the Shakespearean time period, as parents set up chairs and blankets along the green.
As the sun goes down, the lights go up and the play begins, with Punch and Judy puppets helping the younger set ease into the idea of a Shakespeare play with the help of slapstick comedy.
While the complete play often has a cast of over two dozen, this version features actors Dylan Garafalo, Rebeca Lake, Caroline Brady, Garrett Poladian and Zachary Dietz. Through the use of classically styled theater masks, costumes, and puppets, the actors portray multiple characters.
The young members of the audience followed along just fine when Poladian played dual characters in the same scene—two suitors fighting for Bianca’s affections.
With the Shakespearean language intact, it might be hard for some younger ears to tune in, but the majority of the attendees seemed swept up in the drama, laughs and costumes. This take on the play is smart in its use of big drama and fast-paced exchanges. A few of the most famous monologues remain, but entire minor characters have been axed for the sake of simplicity and time constraints.
For adults, Shrew becomes a more interesting time capsule when viewed with modern eyes. As Kate the “Shrew,” Brady arguably has the role that will be the most scrutinized. On the off chance you’d be upset by a spoiler for a play that is over 400 years old, I will say that Brady handles this tough role with class.
Whatever your take on the play—mine is, it’s simply about lies, deception and the meaning of identity—The Taming of the Shrew is a fantastic conversation piece from the Bard. I’d especially recommend preteen girls see it, chiefly for its portrayal of Kate and the actions of her suitor Petruccio, as played by Garafalo. Keeping the mood light, Garafalo’s Petruccio seems more like a trickster than a tyrant.
The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Allen McCoy, runs every Thursday night through Aug. 3 at Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. Admission is FREE. The play is staged on the Grand Lawn, or upstairs in building 560 should weather interfere. Showtime is at 8 p.m. on the green or the upstairs of building 560 should weather interfere.