News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Tamed at the Tobacco Factory

The current production of Taming of the Shrew at the Tobacco Factory is a very fine piece of theatre, in my opinion.

Both the play and the venue were new to me and I enjoyed both very much.

The production company based at the Factory was formed out of the conviction that audiences wanted "to see Shakespeare professionally performed by large casts in an intimate space." With 18 actors taking part, and thus minimum doubling up, the production was true to its company's vision, producing a big impact in a small space.

The Shrew was performed in the round, the audience of about 250 sitting on four sides of the performance space. There was no stage, only a flat area in the middle, an arrangement I had not seen before but one which worked very well, due in part to the very intimate feel of the theatre.

Leo Wringer (pictured) was sensational as Petruchio, winning a spontaneous round of applause from the audience after one particularly powerful speech.

The matinée audience had an average age of about 65, which was something of a surprise to me as I expected more families to be present. Unlike me, they seemed very knowledgeable about the goings on but like me they appeared to enjoy the whole event - a performance, I might add, which started at 2.30 and finished at 5.40. Although the seats did come with cushions, the intermission was welcome.

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