Okay, so if you are about in Suffolk until the end of August, you must detour to see the theatre group Red Rose Chain perform Taming of the Shrew.
Yes, it's an odd play to choose. For us in the twenty-first century - who like to think we know about these things and have risen above them - it's a difficult play offering a deep and wide vein of misogyny with a dollop of domestic violence thrown in for fun. Performed in our enlightened times, it usually depends on the final movement to twist the play into another, more kinder frame of reference, and Red Rose Chain do achieve that here, suggesting Katharine the shrew is in with some covert deal to fleece the men who like to imagine they're in charge of women. It's a neat end spin that puts Katharine on a par with Petruchio, making them a perfect match.
But see it! I guarantee you will not see another one like it. It wallops by at a terrific pace with inspired turns of comedy that show real fresh, creative thinking. The approach brings in much physical comedy and combines lovely set pieces combining music and movement; none of the foolery undermines the play, which makes me think that if Shakespeare had use of bright purple elastic hot pants then yes, he probably would have enjoyed using them on his main character, too.
The cast are simply astonishing for the energy alone required to see it through. With puppets, washing, proper singing and purple hot pants, it's how outdoor summer family theatre should be, and a fully accessible version of a Shakespeare play that should at least get the juniors talking, so it's a huge bravo four times over from big Grit and the little grits.
Thank you, Red Rose Chain! It's worth staying alive to see them again next year.
(And no one even paid me to write this. That's how good it was.)