The Taming of the Shrew

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on July 19, 2012

In an English theatre, Christopher Sly passes out after an argument with his Actor-Manager. When a troupe of traveling actors arrives at the theatre, the Actor-Manager enlists their help to play a trick on Sly. He dresses Sly as a wealthy nobleman and insists that another member of the resident company, Barthol’mew, pose as Sly’s wife. Sly awakens only to be convinced that he dreamed his beggarly existence, and the players present the following story for him:

Lucentio comes to Padua with the intention of studying at the university. On his way into town, he meets Baptista and his two daughters Katherine and Bianca, along with Bianca’s rivaling suitors, Gremio and Hortensio. Baptista insists that Bianca shall not marry before her older sister Katherina (called Kate). Kate’s prospects do not look good. Though beautiful, she is widely considered a shrew. Lucentio falls in love with Bianca immediately and plans to pose as a Latin tutor so that he can woo her in secret. His servant Tranio dons Lucentio’s clothes, poses as his master, and puts his hat in the ring for Bianca’s hand.

Petruchio also disembarks in Padua to visit his friend Hortensio and search for a rich wife. When he learns of Kate, he immediately vows to woo her. Meanwhile, Hortensio disguises himself as a music tutor so that he too can secretly meet Bianca.

Petruchio arrives at Baptista’s house with Gremio and Hortensio. Thrilled, if slightly shocked, that someone is interested in his daughter, Baptista begins to work out the marriage plans. A battle of wits begins as Petruchio endeavors to woo Kate. Petruchio’s compliments turn into teases and Kate, angered to the extreme by his attitude, strikes him. When her father enters, Kate declares that Petruchio is a lunatic and she would rather see him hanged than marry him. Petruchio, placidly ignoring her, insists that the wedding will take place on Sunday and saunters off.

Upon this affirmation, Bianca’s suitors Gremio and Tranio (still disguised as his master Lucentio), celebrate Bianca’s availability. Baptista agrees that the richer of the two may wed Bianca. Tranio as Lucentio, declaring he has unlimited funds, wins with the condition that his father guarantee his wealth.

On Sunday everyone gathers for Kate’s wedding, but the groom is late. Katherina is furious. When Petruchio finally arrives with his servant Grumio, both are dressed outrageously and embarrassingly behaved. After the ceremony is performed, Petruchio refuses to stay for the reception and drags Kate away.

The newlyweds travel home, where Petruchio continues to rave like a maniac. He declares that everything in his household must be perfect for his bride, and in doing so prevents her from eating and sleeping. This strategy to wear her down continues for days until the pair makes a return journey to Padua.

In Padua, Lucentio’s other servant Biondello has found a Pedant on the street to masquerade as Lucentio’s father, Vincentio. Having met whom he believes to be Lucentio’s father, Baptista consents to the union. Meanwhile, Biondello arranges for a priest and witnesses at a church nearby to conduct a speedy ceremony between Bianca and the real Lucentio.

At the same time, the real Vincentio arrives at Baptista’s house and fumes to find Tranio dressed as his son and a Pedant claiming his own identity. Lucentio and Bianca return to announce their marriage and set things straight.

At Bianca’s wedding feast, the husbands compare wives, including Hortensio, who has married a widow. When the women leave the room, the men make a bet to see whose wife will come when called. No one is able to anticipate who will win the bet….


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