Theater review: Synchronicity’s ‘Taming’ veers wildly over the top


Highly touted as the most produced playwright in the country last year, Decatur native Lauren Gunderson (now based in San Francisco) is doubtless among the most prolific, too.

Just consider all the local productions of her work over the past several years: “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” at Synchronicity; the Weird Sisters’ “Emilie”Aurora’s “I and You”“The Revolutionists” at 7 StagesEssential’s “Ada and the Memory Engine”; and “Silent Sky” and “Miss Bennet” at Theatrical Outfit  — which is also opening its new season in August with her “The Book of Will.”

In the meantime, currently on display back at Synchronicity Theatre, “The Taming” is a wild satirical comedy that proves, if not much else, that even a lesser Gunderson play is worthy of note. According to her website, it’s one of four parts in a “Shakespeare Cycle,” but aside from the fact that its trio of quarreling women happens to take their names from characters in “The Taming of the Shrew,” appreciating any greater correlation to the Bard is a dubious stretch.

This Katherine (played to a marvelous hilt by Caroline Arapoglou) is a Miss America contestant from right here in Cobb County, who, in one bizarre sequence, waves a flag and wields a rifle while wearing a sparkly outfit and a Make America Great Again cap. She may look like she’s “perpetuating female subjugation,” but she actually longs to be “taken seriously” and harbors grandiose aspirations of rewriting the Constitution and “creating a more perfect union.”

To that end, she seeks, or more accurately corrals, input from Bianca (Jimmica Collins), an intense left-wing activist and “blogger on a mission,” and from a distaff Petruchio, as in Patricia (Kelly Criss), the ambitious political aide to a philandering right-wing U.S. senator. Given all of their usual partisan distinctions — liberal-versus-conservative, “blue state”-versus-“red state” — it’s of little surprise to also learn that one of them would own a cat, and the other a dog.

The admittedly absurd premise traps the strident women in a hotel room, with no means of escape or outside communication, to hash everything out. During the show’s intermission, they’re somehow transported to Colonial-era America for the start of Act 2. Patricia now embodies James Madison, Bianca becomes Thomas Pinckney, and Katherine appears as George Washington, and Martha, to boot. (Their frilly period costumes are designed by Cole Spivia.)

The time-shifting gimmick opens the floor to more heated “dialogue” between these Founding Fathers — about democracy and equality, about the slave trade and the Electoral College, and about the importance of “putting the country’s sustainability ahead of one’s special interests.”

As haphazardly directed for Synchronicity by Suehyla El-Attar, who’s mainly known as an actress and playwright, such serious points are often overshadowed by so much of the play’s silly posturing. The added, purported “sexual tension” among Gunderson’s three characters (at least one of whom is an avowed lesbian) is woefully underdeveloped. And, for all of their heightened hysterics, to what degree any of them are really “tamed” in the end is questionable at best.

THEATER REVIEW

“The Taming”

Through June 24. 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; 5 p.m. Sundays. $23-$36 (Wednesday shows are pay-what-you-can). Synchronicity Theatre, 1545 Peachtree St. (in the Peachtree Pointe complex), Atlanta. 404-484-8636, synchrotheatre.com.

Bottom line: A minor Lauren Gunderson comedy.

IN OTHER NEWS:



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

How to practice mindfulness exercises
How to practice mindfulness exercises

Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. Spending too much time planning, problem-solving...
Low-dose aspirin offers no overall benefit for healthy older people

A regimen of low-dose aspirin offers healthy, older people no benefit in staving off cardiovascular disease, dementia or disability and increases their risk of bleeding in the digestive tract and brain, according to a large study recently released. Millions of healthy people take small doses of aspirin regularly in the belief that the drug will prevent...
Long-suffering patient becomes a cyborg to find pain relief

“I became a cyborg to manage my chronic pain” Popular Science —- Janet Jay is a cyborg. No, she’s not RoboCop or Darth Vader. But she shares a similarity with those characters: Her all-too-human body has been upgraded with a machine. A next-generation implant deep in Jay’s back stimulates her spinal cord, overriding her...
Replacing carbs with wrong thing could shorten life
Replacing carbs with wrong thing could shorten life

Have you been living a low-carb life? Diets that swap out carbs for protein or fat - think Atkins, South Beach, paleo, keto - are popular largely based on claims that they lead to weight loss and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. However, new research suggests that replacing carbohydrates with animal fat and protein, as most...
1960 student test could be groundbreaking in fight against Alzheimer’s
1960 student test could be groundbreaking in fight against Alzheimer’s

In 1960, Joan Levin, 15, took a test that turned out to be the largest survey of American teenagers ever conducted. It took two and a half days to administer, and included 440,000 students from 1,353 public, private and parochial high schools around the country - including Parkville Senior High School in Parkville, Maryland, where she was a student...
More Stories