Wild Padua

5th May 1995 at 01:00
Director Mihai Maniutui offers Kate and Petruchio as a free-ranging Annie Oakley and Wild Bill Hickock set against a society of staid dudes in The Taming of the Shrew at Leicester Haymarket.

Designer Doina Levinta's costumes tell the tale as Josette Simon's lithe, free-moving Kate switches from flowing robes to the white plumage of an exotic bird for her wedding, ending by sharing Petruchio's cowboy gear. And Jules Melvin's Bianca casts off her mating clothes with the voice of a simpering silly to mature into an intelligent person when she settles with Richard Cant's eager student of a Lucentio.

No wonder they react against the lurid chocolate wrapper colours and types around them. Even Alfred Marks' richly comic Baptista becomes less potent and reverend when his walking cane, symbol of age and authority, opens up to reveal a drinking flask.

James MacPherson's lively Petruchio, sporting everything but the kitchen sink backpack, clearly has spirits enough of his own. Courtship becomes a set of rituals, like recognising - and liking - like, with our independent Kate toting the same rifle in her last speech that she had used to see off lesser suitors. She's also a bird of prey leading the sexual antics at Petruchio's house. But, just as this physically inventive show has too many entries through audience and exits pursued by flying props, so it evades the pain. Petruchio threatens going home like a logician returning to square one. Hunger pangs and sore feet are forgotten.

To May 13. Runs 3 hrs 15 mins. Tickets: 0116 2539797.

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