By Hephzibah Dutt
Teresa Moore delivers a high-energy, dizzying rendition of the main plot-line of Taming of the Shrew with impressive solo characterization of 11 characters. Fans of reduced Shakespeare shows like The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) or Breakneck Shakespeare are sure to enjoy Shrew’d as Moore embodies, in near-schizophrenic succession, upto 5 characters in a single scene.
Audience-members who are not familiar with the play, never fear: assisting Moore in naming characters and setting scene locations is the “White Board Operator” or, as the program points out, “your new best friend.” And while our new best friend occasionally blinds us (his whiteboard reflecting stage lights into our face), he must be forgiven as not only guides us through the play, he also provides additional comic humor and occasionally, someone for Moore to play off of. All that’s left is for us to be amazed at the speed and precision with Moore evokes character after character as she enacts the play with strong comic timing. Shrew’d bears witness to an artist using her basic tools—her face, voice and body—to the max.
Costume effects are limited to a little mustache pendant on a chain, lifted to the lip to disguise Moore’s Lucentio as Moore’s Lucentio-playing-Cambio, and Moore’s Tranio as Moore’s Tranio-playing-Lucentio. Yes, thanks heavens for the White Board Operator, right? In all seriousness though, to someone even cursorily familiar with the play, Moore’s characterization and staging might prove sufficient, even without the WBO—such is her skill at distinguishing between her various embodiments. As can and should be expected, campy, “nudge-nudge-wink-wink” style humor reigns here.
While I never ceased to be impressed at Moore’s skill, about half-way through, I did find my attention waning. Don’t get me wrong, Moore’s performance never flags. Rather, amidst the gimmick and comedy, the play loses nuances of meaning and relationship. Indeed, the problematic aspects of Shakespeare’s script—bullying, starving, mistreating Katherine—are played as a matter of course.
Nevertheless for a fun, speed-Shakespeare experience…and the joy of watching an actor unrestrainedly launch herself into a 60-minutes of impressions like shaper-shifter on steroids…Shrew’d is a must-see