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A Review of The Chamberlayne Actor's Theatre's production of "The Taming of the Shrew" 

A Fool's Gold

Biondello is a minor character in Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," a foolish servant who is peripheral to the play's plot lines. But as deliciously overplayed by Julya Mirro Oberg in the Chamberlayne Actors Theatre current production, this comic relief character becomes the comic centerpiece. Oberg, a whirling dervish with an infectious laugh, establishes an amusing trademark with her entrances (a la "Seinfeld's" Kramer) and uses it as a launching point for hilarity in every scene she's in.

This is not to denigrate the rest of the "Shrew" cast which does a fine job in delivering one of the Bard's earliest — and the most painfully sexist — comedies. David Stott makes a dashing, roguish Petruchio who takes on the task of "taming" the high-spirited Katharine (Eileen McNeil Newkirk). Katharine's father, Baptista (John Ambrose) has stipulated that Katharine must be married off first before his younger and more obedient daughter, Bianca (Martha Polliard), can run off with one of her three suitors.

Ambrose shines as the befuddled father, and Newkirk transforms convincingly from a menacing, spiteful shrew to a dutiful wife. Though she never realizes the potential for Bianca's own brand of shrewishness, Polliard projects a certain blankly attractive charm as the coquettish younger sister.

But, ultimately, all of the other performances are washed aside in Oberg's wake. While the result is enjoyable, it is unfortunate that director Tom Hilterbrant couldn't find other standout talents to round out the cast. It also would have been helpful if the half-dozen costumers he employed to outfit the show had coordinated their efforts better; the show is a distracting mishmash of faux Italian finery and jarring modern elements (e.g., Petruchio's black tennis shoes).

Still, this "Shrew" is never tame and, thanks in large part to Oberg, even wild and wonderful at times.

"The Taming of the Shrew" runs Thursday - Saturday through Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. at 319 N. Wilkinson Road. Call 262-9760 for
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