There was not a seat to spare when the final production of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” began on Sunday, July 20 at Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP). Whether it was the free admittance, the backdrop of the sun setting behind the Manhattan skyscrapers on the East River or simply the buzz about the DUMBO-based Random Access Theatre’s successful performances, the crew’s last performance night was certainly not last in attendance.
The show ran from July 18-20 at Granite Prospect in the BBP. This is the third year for the partnership between Random Access Theatre and the park.
“Random Access Theatre reclaims and re-imagines works of the past as a way to engage in modern issues, while simultaneously nurturing the development of new pieces from emerging New York City artists,” the group said in a statement.
Although the sun was hot and glaring at the beginning of the performance, it eventually sunk below the skyline and left a golden veil over the performers.
Before the show began, Jennifer Sandella, the co-founder and artistic director of Random Access Theatre, spoke about the company’s passion for implementing current social issues into the works that they produce.
“The Taming of the Shrew” no doubt ascribed to this idea.
Following a plot about marriage, the story examines gender roles and subordination in women, and has often been criticized for being sexist.
However, the Random Access Theatre performance brings new ideas to the traditional story.
A combination of female actors playing normally male-casted characters, as well as a significant undertone of satirical humor (something Shakespeare may have meant to be noticed as well), made the show relatable to women’s issues around the world today.
Ironically, even though the story itself presents a “taming” attitude toward women, the female actors gave the most memorable performances.
Diona Burnett, a New York Conservatory School for Film and Television graduate who played a combination of the three minor characters Biondello, Curtis and Tailor, added sharp humor and catchy accents to the play. Jessica Mosher of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, who added perhaps the biggest change to the original play with her portrayal of Tranio (usually played by a male), brought the play to life and put a fantastic spin on the story.
Overall, the cast kept the large audience’s attention, as well as catching that of several passers-by, throughout the play’s entirety.
The Random Access Theatre will cap off its 2014 season with performances of “Rosmersholm” by Henrik Ibsen Sept. 4-14 at the Old Stone House in Park Slope.