Review of

"Julie Taymor"

Lanier, Douglas. "Julie Taymor."
The Routledge Companion to Directors’ Shakespeare. Ed. John Russell Brown. London: Routledge, 2008. 457-473.

Thesis: This review of director Julie Taymor's Shakespearean projects has two pages on her 1988 production of Shrew, for which "Taymor eschewed both the misogyny of the whip-cracking shrew-taming and the farce of the mating-of-madcaps approaches to the play" (464). Her approach amounts to a challenge to the assertion, often repeated in academic criticism, that for modern audiences, Shrew must be played as a farce. Otherwise, it has been said, the patriarchalism—particularly as expressed in Katherine's final speech—must be offensive. Taymor, however, confined farce to the induction, and "by stressing the comical stylisation of the induction, [she] highlighted the earnest psychological naturalism of her approach to Kate and Petruchio's developing romance." Thus when Katherine makes her speech about woman's obedience, " though she offered her pronouncement about female submissiveness earnestly, it was filled with private sneers at those gathered, particularly her sister Blanca," and "when Kate turned to Petruchio to place her hand beneath his foot, she gave him a long, knowing, joyful look that signified their private understanding of the moment—it was not so much a public taming (as the banqueters clearly understood it) as a clever, multilayered performance offered to him alone" (465).

Bottom Line: A successful performance challenges the critics' assumptions.