The American Oggi Review, By Mario Fratti

There we are, listed right under the picture of Scarlette & Liev!
Here’s the translation!
Director James Jennings reminds us that Shakespeare loved Italy, the country he often chose for his passionate dramas. Playing now in the ATA Theater is “The Taming of the Shrew”, a passionate rebel from Padua who refuses to give in to her aggressive husband. Perfect couple. Jessica Jennings is devious and sensual while trying to escape the embrace of Petruchio, …Michael Matucci who left his modeling career in Italy to assert himself as an actor in New York. A great start. He is prepared and convincing, with great control of the [Shakespearean] English language. This capable cast, well selected and directed by James Jennings, performs with passionate energy.  

The Taming of the Shrew

American Theatre of Actors

314 West 54th Street


Review by Megan Soyars, Show Business Weekly

William Shakespeare is known as many things: poet, historian, philosopher — but a misogynist? We’d like to think not, but The Taming of the Shrew certainly calls the Bard’s attitudes toward women into question. A comic play that features scenes of martial abuse, Shakespeare’s most controversial work requires delicate handling by its director. Fortunately, James Jennings of the American Theatre of Actors rises to this challenge.

In The Taming of the Shrew, a battle of the wills (thinly veiled as a courtship) ensues between impoverished noble Petruchio and Kate Minola, a wealthy heiress with a tongue of steel. Petruchio bears only his father’s title, but has plenty of machismo to back it up. He is determined to break down Kate’s stubbornness — and her spirit in the process. In the play’s more comedic subplot, nobleman Lucentio transforms himself into a humble tutor in order to win the heart of Kate’s sister, Bianca. These alternating dramatic and humorous storylines are successfully intertwined by the cast.

Thomas Leverton, as the foppish Lucentio, is wonderfully diverting. Our sides split as we watch him flounce across the stage or go into a dip as he dances with Bianca. On the other hand, Michael Matucci’s portrayal of Petruchio is somewhat flat. Arrogance and a sort of casual cruelty are the character’s sole traits. This two-dimensionality is partly the result of Shakespeare’s script. (Lines such as “this is a way to kill a wife with kindness” do not allow for much artistic range.) Nevertheless, Matucci could inject more depth into his role by reading between the lines. There is a suggestion that Petruchio’s posturing results from insecurity about his paltry means, and Matucci could have better highlighted this insecurity, especially in the scenes that take place in his dilapidated country house. However, the chemistry in his love-hate relationship with Kate is believable. Petruchio may be a chauvinist, but he is clearly passionate about his waspish wife. In her turn as Kate, Jessica Jennings deftly handles the balancing act required of her character. Jennings makes us grate our teeth when she shows us Kate’s shrewish side, then elicits our sympathy when the tables are turned against her at the end of the play.

Though an adept production, Shrew drags at times (even after cutting the play’s introductory frame). The intermission arrives too early, causing us to dart occasional glances at our watches as the play nears its conclusion. Many scenes consist of dialogue rather than action, and could be shortened without losing the essence of the play. After all, as Shakespeare himself states, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

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