So while it was still in town I did indeed get to see the Boston production of Taming of the Shrew, and when I get a moment I’ll have to write a review. I don’t have time for much these days, though, so I’ll have to relate a quick story about the couple we went with. I’d actually brought with me, as something of a joke, the Taming of the Shrew comic book. My wife was enjoying reading it, and passing it to our friends. One friend who shall remain nameless said that she’s very familiar with the show. Cool. I like finding new Shakespeare friends.
At intermission we’re talking about “What do you think of the show so far?” as people often do. Then everybody gives me the generic “I like it,” which I can’t stand, like saying anything other than that must make you a bad person. Actually it just makes you a person with no opinions. But, anyway. This one person says, “See, to me, this is a better play than Hamlet.”
I swear to God, you should have seen me. I’ve never quite known what it is like to be speechless like I was. So many, many replies going through my brain, trying to filter them and decide which would be the least offensive. Meanwhile, she’s still talking. “The comedies like this are the ones that are really entertaining for the people. I can’t stand all those dark, depressing ones. Hamlet, Macbeth… ”
“Hamlet,” I say through gritted teeth, “Might be the greatest piece of literature in the English language. The world is a better place because of plays like Hamlet, not because of shallow nonsense like this. I watch Taming of the Shrew like I watch a generic Kate Hudson romantic comedy.” My wife quickly jumps in to change the subject before I begin raising my voice.
“Know what else I hate?” this woman continues, perhaps not realizing or caring how much she has fallen in my eyes. “The Tempest.”
“I’ve read The Tempest to my 3yr old as a bedtime fairy tale,” I tell her.
“And did she understand it?”
“She *asked* me for it. Repeatedly.”
Luckily the show started back up. Later in the car, we were talking about the fact that my daughter is named Katherine, and how yes of course I knew about the Shrew character, and no it is not a silly coincidence. My second daughter is named Elizabeth well aware of that Shakespearean connection, as well. But when my son was born we couldn’t find a good Shakespearean male name we liked. This then got into a conversation about how Shakespeare didn’t often use male names that are still in use today.
“Horatio?” this poor woman says.
Gritted teeth time again. “That….is a character in HAMLET!” I force myself to say.
Next year, I don’t think we’re going with anybody. 🙂