Untamed: Review of 'Taming of the Shrew'

Synetic's 'Shrew' overflows with bright color, stark lighting, emotive music and, as always, stunning choreography

By Kate Wingfield
Published on April 12, 2012, 6:31am | Comments

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Angry, black-clad and clearing her space of suitors and paparazzi in a whirl of arms and legs, Ms. Tsikurishvili's is an unsettling Katherine who commands the eye even as she repels it. With a face as expressive as her body, Tsikurishvili brings tremendous clarity to Katherine's journey at the hands of Petruchio. Through her beautifully blended dance and mime we understand exactly what director Paata Tsikurishvili wants us to see -- a woman who, even as she rails against her new husband and then falters under his deprivations, casts her spell. As envisioned, this is a memorable, original take on a character many would consider done and dusted.

Yet, even with that, there is something here that doesn't quite work -- though not for want of trying. Look behind all the drama and displays of passion (both angry and romantic) and this Katherine has almost no chemistry with her Petruchio, despite being played with smoldering sexiness and an eventual gentle charm by Ryan Sellers. Even when she finally finds him prostrate with love on his studio floor and they commence their dance as equals, Katherine is distractingly stark in her black boots and underwear -- it's seemingly more about cutting an enviable silhouette at this crucial moment than losing herself in the Grade-A Prime sizzling in front of her. Thus, in her choreography and the way Tsikurishvili embodies her, this is a Katherine who acts out and yet never really seems to break out of herself.

TAMING OF THE SHREW
starstarstarstar
To April 22
Lansburgh Theatre
450 7th St. NW
$45-$55
202-547-1122
synetictheater.org

Still, Tsikurishvili and Sellers move well together and their bodies nicely complement each other as they weave and react. And though Sellers may not be balletic, he is a sure and supple mover and possesses the rare ability to appear convincingly emotionally involved. And let's not forget the sex appeal.

Right on the money as always, Alex Mills offers mischievously good comic timing and plenty of smooth moves as Petruchio's side-kick Grumio. Also delivering with his usual lithe magic and convincing, edgy expression is Philip Fletcher as Gremio, the hapless suitor. As Lucentio, the man trying to court Bianca amid the Hollywood frenzy, Scott Brown nicely evokes his young man's sweetness but also his persistence and Irina Kavsadze offers the right balance of innocence and knowingness in her Bianca. Playing to his strong clowning craft, Vato Tsikurishvili delivers crowd-pleasing slapstick with an acrobatic Hortensio.

And so, even with its flaws, this is a ride as fun and wild as any Petruchio might take on his Harley.