With a fun concept and copious amounts of energy, EDP Soonchunhyang University’s Korean imagining of The Taming of the Shrew is a joy to watch.
The Taming of the Shrew, as performed by the students of the Korean EDP Soonchunhyang University’s English drama group, is framed by a fun concept. Set in Korea, protagonist Kate is a hip-hop-dancing rebel – unaccepted in her traditional surroundings. This contrast is an absolute joy to watch, especially led by the young, energetic student-cast.
It’s a student performance, and that has to be taken into account. The acting is on a student-level, the costumes too, and any set design is almost non-existent. But there is so much charm to this version of The Taming of the Shrew, and a sustained energy that’s worthy of the company’s uproarious applause during the curtain call. From the very beginning as the audience come in, the actors shower us with compliments – Lucentio is looking for a wife in the audience – and the magnetic atmosphere persists. It gets even better as the suitors fight for Bianca’s love whilst riding on little plastic ponies. The laughs the students get out of the audience are genuine and frequent.
The main problem of the production is the obvious struggle with the Shakespearean English language. Not easy even for professional actors whose native language is English, the Korean students often grapple with language – and at times, it’s not entirely intelligible. Thankfully, the story’s well-known and easy to follow so this does not impede the understanding of the performance – but it does somewhat mess with the enjoyment.
EDP Soonchunhyang University’s The Taming of the Shrew is great fun to see, especially because the performers are clearly enjoying themselves just as much as the audience. It also shows how cultures can be mixed and produce something beautiful as a result. If only they would work a bit more on pronunciation, this show could be a (student-theatre) highlight of the Fringe.