1978: Michael Bogdanov production

The Taming of the Shrew (1978) Photo shows David Suchet as Grumio and Paola Dionisotti as Kate. Photo: Joe Cocks Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Michael Bogdanov directed this modern-dress production of Shrew set in the 1930s which emphasised the patriarchal society of Padua and Petruchio's abuse of Katharine.

The production began with a prologue so convincing that on more than one occasion, members of the audience left the auditorium to call the police! Once the house-lights went down, a drunk in the audience - later revealed to be Christopher Sly - started a commotion and argued with an ushette. After pushing her to the floor, he then rampaged around the auditorium, tearing down scenery, before being restrained by other actors, theatre staff and occasionally, concerned members of the audience.

Once restrained, Sly was stripped and plonked in a bath. The rest of the play was Sly's dream - with actor Jonathan Pryce doubling as Petruchio. The action took place with the initial scenery ripped back to reveal bare walls and metalwork.

The show's cast would go on to become household names: Jonathan Pryce and Paola Dionisotti played Petruchio and Kate; Zoe Wannamaker was Bianca, David Suchet was Petruchio's servant Grumio and Ruby Wax appeared in non-speaking roles and understudyed the role of Bianca.

Find out more about this production on Zoe Wanamaker's official website »

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Photo shows David Suchet as Grumio and Paola Dionisotti as Kate in the RSC's 1978 production of The Taming of the Shrew.
Photo: Joe Cocks Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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