Shakespeare’s popular comedy was played for laughs at the Brewhouse in a ‘Sawn-off Shakespeare’ performance, ie pruning the story and removing the sub-plots.

The Taming of the Shrew is essentially a dark tale of a misogynist marrying for money then subjugating his wife, and would normally move an audience to anger at some points. However with no attempt to emphasise messages or morals Black Chair Productions delivered an entertaining romp through the (still complex) plot. Whilst Shakespearean language was retained, there were no grand, overblown gestures nor pompous delivery – rather a pace and tone which was more conversational – no mean feat when dealing with 16th century prose, and entirely suited to the studio environment. Inspired incorporation of items such as multiple toaster gifts at a wedding and the ‘Men are from Mars…’ book enhanced this slick performance with which the many teenagers watching appeared to relate.

Every one of the 7 players engaged well with the audience, assisted by the club cabaret style set-up whereby some audience members found themselves playing a bit part! Outstanding characterisation from Tracy Binham as Grumio and especially as the vicar reinforced the light touch. Blasphemous to purists, but to engage a wider audience in relating to the Bard’s work, perhaps ‘sawn-off’ is ‘Shakespeare as it should be’ for the masses?