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The Taming of the Shrew (Delacorte)

Members say: Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Funny, Ambitious

About the show

As part of its free Shakespeare in the Park lineup, The Public Theater presents the Bard's zany comedy of the sexes with an all-female cast. Starring Tony winner Janet McTeer and directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

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Lovely Bianca is the prize to be won by all the men looking to land themselves a wealthy wife. But the competitors will first have to marry off Bianca’s clever, fiery older sister, Katherina, who may just outsmart them all. Tony and Olivier winner Janet McTeer plays Petruchio, the wild outsider Katherina must outwit, in Shakespeare’s original screwball comedy showing the lengths men will go to for their legacy, what women will do to break free, and the outrageous things we all do for the human heart.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

“Ms. Lloyd’s streamlined ‘Shrew’ manages to tell Shakespeare’s original tale with briskness and clarity. And without disrupting its governing tone of a carnival-cum-political-rally, it sheds a bright light on patterns of language and behavior in the play...Ms. McTeer here gives us a Petruchio who is both a brazen caricature and an unnerving psychological study...Ms. Jumbo finds the natural woman in Katherina.” Full Review

New York Post

"In short, this 'Shrew' is a hot mess, but a goofily entertaining one…Cush Jumbo amps it up to the max...In contrast, Donna Lynne Champlin and LaTanya Richardson Jackson both play it straight as men, which actually adds to the comedy...Things start to drag halfway through, but then, that’s the Bard’s fault. No one seems to know how to handle the final scene...We rush through to the choreographed curtain call, set to Joan Jett’s 'Bad Reputation.' When in doubt, rock out." Full Review


"While there is undoubtedly a direct line from the woman-breaking themes of Shakespeare's text to the vaselined feminine perfection engendered by beauty pageants, Lloyd dilutes the potential of this concept by seeming to choose several others as backups...The end result is a cacophony of ideas that drown one another out. This is unfortunate because, stripped of all its bells and whistles, this is an incredibly well-acted and compelling production." Full Review


“Is this production gorgeously giddy—or just goofy?...Jumbo has plenty of spirit as Kate, and some of the comic fools are funny, but McTeer steals the show with her deliciously camp treatment of Petruchio...A hint of roughness about Petruchio’s 'taming' of his bride lends a soupcon of sado-masochism to McTeer’s bad boy impersonation. But it’s a theme that fails to work its way into the production style, which is all over the map." Full Review


"Phyllida Lloyd's freestyle riff on 'Shrew,' a sly-humored feminist rebellion...More a play about privilege than just a knockabout battle of the sexes. Lloyd trims the play to an intermissionless two hours, punctuated with fun off-beat moments…Perhaps the faded carnival setting is more representative of the production's style than of its dramaturgy. Here, 'The Taming of the Shrew' serves as the carnival midway for an entertaining assortment of attractions revolting against the patriarchy." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"The frame that Phyllida Lloyd has devised for' Shrew' is neither satisfying as a workaround nor coherent in itself. It’s just kitsch, randomly applied and then run into the ground…Lloyd does nothing with the gender reversal except milk it for hike-up-your-trousers laughs. When the pageant frame returns very briefly and chaotically at the end, you feel cheated because it hasn’t achieved a thing…Only the great Janet McTeer gets around the conceit to some actual interpretive acting." Full Review

Village Voice

"The radical decision in Phyllida Lloyd's carnivalesque version isn't the (stellar) all-woman cast. No — it's that these women actually play Shakespeare's violence without apology...McTeer's Petruchio breaks Katherina to marriage while swaggering like Mick Jagger, giving a performance worth standing in line for. Indeed, the deep bench of women performing next to her are Lloyd's real rebuke to the patriarchy. Why do we do Shakespeare any other way?" Full Review

Time Out New York

"One interesting effect of casting all women (and what women—the cast is packed with talented pros and newbies) is the partial suspension of unease over seeing females objectified, monetized and trained like animals. It lets the comedy do its work, and a lusty, charismatic actor like McTeer can swagger about like the rock star she is...The overall effect is a 'Shrew' that is subversive, sexy and, most of all, funny. Genuinely funny." Full Review

The Huffington Post

“Breezy adaptation, canny casting and a handful of delectable performances combine to make Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ a 425-year-old romp for audiences...To start with the best, we have the Petruchio of Janet McTeer opposite the Katherina of Cush Jumbo. Keep your Alfred Lunts and Alfred Drakes and Richard Burtons...If we’re going to have ‘Taming of the Shrew’, this is a fine way to have it.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Lloyd's ideas are sophomoric or self-congratulatory or both…Her satire is so lame, so secondhand, so left over from television comedy sketches of three or four decades ago...Because so much time is spent on this sort of fooling around, the actual play seems to have gotten very little attention...This points to a deeper problem: Her conception of the main characters forecloses on any possibility of their engaging our interest." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Lloyd offers an often funny, sometimes astute, and not exactly subtle reading of Shakespeare’s problem comedy...The cast is mixed in its abilities...No one wears the verse as lightly and brashly as McTeer...Though the play clocks in at just two hours and though Lloyd’s clarity of vision doesn’t flag, in certain scenes the actors seem to do little more than trudge through the iambs...The ending is somehow too blatant. It defuses and eases the real discomfort the play occasions." Full Review

Theater Life

“A radical interpretation featuring an all-female cast staged by a female director. The intentions may be honorable, but the results are mixed at best...Despite the directorial overkill, Lloyd knows how to keep a show moving...Plus, there are performances to cheer. Janet McTeer is irresistibly infectious as a macho Petruchio...Cush Jumbo’s Kate is spirited and fiery, but she fails to make sense of the heroine’s final conversion to domesticity or the frantic denouement imposed by Lloyd.” Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"The all-female production seems to be working hard to make the play more palatable…A pieced-together, awkwardly integrated entertainment that can be enjoyed as a whole, as long it’s not overly scrutinized...The sexism is too obvious, and too edged in something ugly… McTeer is a caricature of The Human Male, and while much of it is humorous, there is nothing funny about her torturing of Katherina." Full Review

Front Row Center

"As for being tamed, Ms. Jumbo does not quite deliver…It is obvious that this production has been carefully constructed...Judy Gold (Gremio) is given the task of explaining in a stand-up routine that there were cuts made…She pulls it off just fine, but it is an odd insertion…Only McTeer is free of headgear, binding or zippers. This may be in part why she is so loose and free in her performance. McTeer brings swagger, spark and bounce to the evening." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Having only women play roles in a work focusing on male-female behavior helps underline issues of gender construction but it goes only so far...Apart from McTeer’s show-stealing, super-macho, bully-boy, but oddly charmless Petruchio...few others make much of an impression. Jumbo has done much better work...but here she’s...more a petulant child than a serious challenge for Petruchio to overcome." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Only intermittent sparks in this knockabout feminist burlesque...McTeer and Jumbo's casting is this production's chief reward...Some audiences no doubt will get a kick out of the staging, given the innately subversive fun of watching women make a mockery of a society of men...It’s impossible to overlook the fact that this unrelentingly blunt comedy just isn't very funny...The performers appear to be having way more fun than the audience.” Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"It’s not very funny. Boisterous and good-humored, yes, but 'The Taming of the Shrew' is a comedy or nothing, and I’ve never seen a staging that made me laugh less...Similarly bothersome is the conceptual vagueness of the production...The result is a slapdash extravaganza, one that is so heavily cut that the coherence of the play is diminished still further….Ms. McTeer is, needless to say, an actor of the first rank, but there is no comic relish to her performance." Full Review

AM New York

"An all-female, freewheeling, politically-minded production, which presents the comedy as lowbrow entertainment...The characters are played up as broad caricatures who engage in clowning and visual gags. Jumbo’s Katherine is a spoiled, screaming child in pigtails and McTeer’s Petruchio is a cocky cowboy in a black leather jacket...The fast-paced production, even if self-conscious and somewhat muddled, manages to be both enjoyable and outright disturbing.” Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Lloyd jubilantly knows what she’s doing, and, with this 'Shrew,' she jubilantly comments on male behavior…It’s not going out on a limb to say that Lloyd delivers one of the best free Shakespeare offerings ever, courtesy of a cast of male-impersonator beauties, led by the fearless Janet McTeer…Indeed, there’s not a woman as a man in the entire cast who isn’t pulling the drag off hilariously and looking to be having a helluva good time at it...Lloyd fills this 'Shrew' with delightful surprises." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Lloyd's crowning achievement here is unquestionably getting this big group of gifted, charismatic actresses to come together and tell this story, and it's certainly a joy to watch them. But because Lloyd's spin is so sloppy and incomprehensible, in the way it repudiates Shakespeare but replaces him with nothing, the many fine women in the company become almost props in an act that claims to elevate them but instead causes them to shrink before our eyes." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"I hate when overly ambitious directors think it is OK to screw with an author's text…Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female production is an all-out Trump hate fest and not the play...The only reasons to see this production are for the fabulous Janet McTeer, who makes Petruchio a swaggering, crotch-grabbing, peeing, barfing, farting, strutting man watchable, and the wonderful Donna Lynne Champlin playing multiple roles." Full Review

New York Daily News

"McTeer’s performance is randy, boisterous and consistently amusing. Cush Jumbo doesn't quite rise so high as the reluctant bride Katherina…Boasting an eclectic and talented ensemble, this revival of the unruly play is chockablock with ideas beyond its no-guys-allowed concept…When all is said and done, the Public Theater's free show doesn't add up and misses as many laughs as it lands." Full Review


"Lloyd has transformed Shakespeare’s misogynist comedy into a tract with a laugh track…Played with glorious greasy swagger by Janet McTeer, Petruchio is a balls-grabbing, cock o’ the walk…Lloyd is utterly unfazed by Shakespeare, cutting the text, interpolating torn-from-the-headlines asides and adding a coda that restates the obvious. Yes, much of it is rollickingly funny; none of it is remotely romantic. Which is the point, I suppose...I loved it. And I hated it." Full Review


“A hilarious and thoroughly of the moment romp. It may not be Shakespeare at his most subtle or have the consistency of style of LLoyd's other Shakespeare plays, but it's definitely great fun...Ms. Lloyd, her actors and staging team have mined every possibility for boisterously bold comedy, taking full advantage of the outdoor setting, and using the gender-busting casting to satirize Elizabethan macho.” Full Review


“If you missed Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female productions of ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Henry IV’, don’t miss her rollicking all-female version of the now politically incorrect comedy, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, first of this year’s Free Shakespeare in the Park. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she has cast Tony, Olivier, Golden Globe and Drama Desk Award winner Janet McTeer who turns in a virtuoso performance as Petruchio giving the unmarriageable Katherina a run for her money.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Must see, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if You want to see a well-acted version of Taming that doesn't shy away from the misogyny.

Don't see it if You aren't a Shakespeare fan, or don't like it when shows mix up the genders of the cast.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You like an all-female cast, you are a feminist.

Don't see it if You like traditional Shakespeare plays.

Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You want to see performers and directors engage "The Taming of the Shrew" honestly and vulnerably

Don't see it if You've got something against women and their opinions

Funny, Ambitious, Edgy, Resonant, Romantic

See it if you like visionary depictions of the Bard

Don't see it if you're a Bard traditionalist

Funny, Great acting, Disappointing, Overbearing

See it if you enjoy Shakespeare in a contemporary setting, & don't mind that a sharp tongued Katherine is instead a shrieking brat at a loss for words

Don't see it if you enjoy contemporary Shakespeare that celebrates strong female leads, quick wit and insightful humour

Original, Clever, Indulgent, Slow

See it if you want to see an interesting adaptation of Shakespeare with an all-female cast, some strong acting, & clear intention (love it or hate it)

Don't see it if you find an all-female cast gimmicky or don't like the idea of a beauty pageant being an added framing device to a Shakespeare play


See it if you enjoy Shakespeare

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Disappointing

See it if you'd be interested in a feminist take on an essentially anti-feminist play or if you want to see plays that satirize Trump's America.

Don't see it if you care more about quality theatre than theatre trying to make a point with a seemingly-relevant, non-traditional interpretation.

Ambitious, Clever, Resonant, Great staging

See it if Revisiting an inherently misogynistic pay with an all female cast and a new message appeals

Don't see it if Cross dressing makes you uncomfortable our you're a Shakespeare purist

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Refreshing

See it if the misogyny of Shrew has always bothered you.

Don't see it if you're Donald Trump.

Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy new spins on classic shows.

Don't see it if Shakespeare isn't your jam.

Ambitious, Dizzying, Great acting, Refreshing, Failed (but admirable) experiment

See it if you are interested in the all-female take, you want to see the glorious Janet McTeer RULE the stage.

Don't see it if you want something perfectly packaged and glossy. This is an experiment... sometimes it doesn't work. But it's admirable and exciting.

Absorbing, Clever, Refreshing, Romantic, Great staging

See it if you're looking for a Shakespeare play with a modern, engaging twist. This all-female cast is stellar.

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare's plays.

Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing, Overrated, Some good acting

See it if You like Shakespeare no matter what they do to it! You like novelty for the sake of novelty.

Don't see it if You want emotional engagement instead of just novelty and spectacle. Ultimately it didn't matter that the cast was all women.

Original, Ambitious, Clever, Quirky, Great staging

See it if You like Shakespeare and want to see a phenomenal all women cast try to tackle a very misogynistic play and ALMOST succeed.

Don't see it if Even with great acting, the misogyny of this play is grating & exhausting and hard to get around. Very non-traditional approach to this play

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Great staging, Cush jumbo (as kate) & janet mcteer (as petruchio) are the comic coupling of the decade!!

See it if I waited for FREE tickets 3 times due the hilarity of the show & this Summer's mild weather. Loved CUSH!! Best Shrew I've ever seen!!

Don't see it if Purists will find the addition of modern elements off putting, includint a Beauty & Talent Pageant, a comic monogue from Judy Gold, & an RV!

Great acting, Quirky, Refreshing, Dated, Entertaining

See it if you're interested in an original, unexpected staging of a stale Shakespearean work.

Don't see it if you're a feminist. Despite the all-female cast & director and the attempt to "take back" the story, the misogynistic themes are off-putting

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Relevant

See it if Like your bars twisted and different, want to laugh

Don't see it if Like traditional Shakespeare

Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if Entertaining take on the classic with excellent performances by Janet McTeer, and Bianca particularly. Full of energy,and liveliness.

Don't see it if you are wedded to the traditional Shakespeare.

Funny, Clever, Entertaining, Avant-garde

See it if You want to see a modern take on one of Shakespeare's better known comedies with an all female cast.

Don't see it if If you like your Bard presented more traditionally.

Ambitious, Great acting, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a bold, interesting take on this Shakespeare classic with great performances. They handled the ending of the play very well.

Don't see it if you prefer more classical Shakespeare, don't like free shows, or don't like women. Even if you object to the play, give this one a try!

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Indulgent, Confusing

See it if you are a fan of McTeer or Jumbo and are eager to reconsider the meanings and implications of the play.

Don't see it if you think "Taming of the Shrew" should be funny.

Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated, Slow

See it if You want to spend two hours in a beautiful setting on a beautiful evening and have nothing else to do!

Don't see it if Expect to see traditional Shakespeare. What a mockery ! Shakespeare must be turning in his grave!

Confusing, Disappointing, Upsetting, Anger-inducing

See it if you want to see free theatre.

Don't see it if sexism and racism are real issues for you, because this production somehow makes this play feel more of both.

Funny, Ambitious, Slow, Dated

See it if you have never seen The Taming of the Shrew.

Don't see it if you are looking for something straightforward. I found it pretty incoherent.

Cast & Creatives (22)