The Taming of the Shrew, Tripaway Theatre, at Cafe Voltaire. There's a phenomenon in theater sometimes called the "mad dog rehearsal," when the cast abandons decorum and gleefully blows off steam by parodying, caricaturing, and otherwise messing with a patiently memorized script. Nobody kids themselves that it's of interest to any but the participants.
Tripaway Theatre's Taming of the Shrew resembles such a rehearsal. The chief game seems to be a competition for the swiftest delivery, a competition that effectively eliminates characterization, motivation, phrasing, and intelligibility. It's of no avail to watch the actors' lips, since Kevin M. Grubb is the only member of the troupe who can enunciate at this pace--or who bothers to try. And anyway, the others speak more to one another than for the benefit of the audience. A secondary contest, for the most annoyingly shrill vocalizations, finishes at a tie between Anita Evans and Joy Ovington; but Kelli Woods as Kate takes the prize for grotesque facial expressions. In lieu of stage business director Karin Shook has given her cast some standard-issue slapstick turns, some of which might have been amusing in a more grounded production but in this one only add to the confusion.
What the Tripaways hoped to gain from this juvenile exercise is difficult to figure out, though they seem to be having fun. Audiences wishing to do the same are advised to read Shakespeare's play. Skip the show.
--Mary Shen Barnidge