p_2349_i_3129537 Male-female lines are blurred—and brilliantly so—in Queer Classics’ The Taming Of The Shrew – An Exploration Of Gender Expression, now playing at Hollywood Fringe 2015.

Shakespeare himself blurred gender lines, or at least his Elizabethan-era actors did, back when women were forbidden by law to set foot onstage. Women’s Shakespeare continues to blur those lines, and this year’s Fringe-goers can also take in a gender-reversed Romea & Julian.

Queer Classics takes this gender-bending a step further, not merely by having certain actors “cross-dress” but by imagining a Petruchio and Kate who not only defy gender stereotypes, they may actually have been born into the wrong bodies.

The wonder of Mike Wamser and Casey Kringlen’s adaptation, conceived and directed by Kringlen with abundant imagination and panache, is in their having found in Shakespeare’s actual text reasons to believe that Petruchio and Kate might indeed be trangender, and to make the two lovers’ discovery of their truth a powerful one.

Whether straight or gay, cisgender or trans, cast members Shaan Dasani, Ryan Leslie Fisher, Suzanne Fortin, Julie Rei Goldstein, Bobby Gutierrez, Jeffrey Masters, Gordon Meacham, Dawn Medina, Nathan Mohebbi, and Lauren Parkinson all do delightful work, some of it downright sensational, and having a pair of audience members step into cameo roles adds to the fun.

Kringlen and company stick closely to Shakespeare’s text, edited down to a brisk ninety minutes, while allowing characters to toss off a scripted adlb here or there, though there’s not one of Shrew’s iconic characters that doesn’t get a fresh new twist, or don opposite-sex drag at one point or another. (Mohebbi is particularly fetching in blue lace.)

Most importantly, the adapters keep the audience entertained throughout.

Dan Weingarten’s lighting design and a bevy of imaginative costumes both stylish and whimsical add to the production’s decidedly professional air.

Amber Bruegel is stage manager and Shaeffer Nelson is assistant stage manager.

Having now seen Queer Classics’ gender-bending Taming Of The Shrew, this reviewer will find it hard to view a traditionally staged Shrew without seeing Petruchio and Kate with queer new eyes.


–Steven Stanley
June 21, 2015