The Taming of the Shrew is a very difficult play for me. I am pretty certain Shakespeare was taking the mick, really, but having great sympathy for Katharina, it is difficult to get through nontheless.
ReTold takes the two difficult character -to deal with and to like – and made them slightly deranged. It is not an approach easy to swallow and somehow, being on the edge of madness seemed to me like a paltry excuse for bad behavior. I vastly preferred the ‘Ten Things I Hate About You” characters, whose behaviors were a result of very real and relatable issues. Needless to say, I did not like this Kate. This Petruchio I disliked at this juncture as much as I disliked Shakespeare’s.
Remarkably, however, despite the inauspicious beginnings, I find myself warming to them. Certain vulnerabilities were displayed and both Henderson (Kate) and Sewell (Petruchio) managed to somehow make then likable. I say somehow because I knew they were doing and saying things I usually find irritating, but, in some strange way, I could not dislike them.
A lot of romance hinges on the likability of the hero and heroine, and when either is not, it is very difficult for the reader to sustain interest. This was why I find Shakepeare’s play so difficult – I detested Petruchio and liked Katharina. I certainly did not wish Katharina to end up with Petruchio.
By making Kate and Petruchio likable, ReTold has succeeded, in my opinion, in adapting the play for modern audiences. It was not obviously funny, but it amused. The characters were not nice at all, yet likable. Altogether, I would say, this is a show of contradictions and a war between the heart and mind.
On a side note, I have not found Rufus Sewell remotely attractive before but I have changed my mind.
It must have been the embroidered stockings! Ha ha.