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Timeless battle of the sexes; The Royal Shakespeare Company makes a longawaited return to Newcastle tonight. Entertainment Editor GORDON BARR previews the production, at the Theatre Royal until March 3.

Byline: GORDON BARR

THE Royal Shakespeare Company is back at Newcastle's Theatre Royal from tonight to open a major UK tour of its new production of The Taming of the Shrew.

This is one of William Shakespeare's most popular, enduring and controversial romantic comedies.

It explores love and sexual politics through Petruchio's attempts to tame "the shrew" Katharina to a submissive life of domesticity. Often readapted and reimagined for stage and screen - Cole Porter's Kiss me Kate and 10 Things I Hate About You among the most famous - it retains a fascination for modern audiences and has broad appeal.

The RSC's new production, which first opened on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre's newly-transformed stage in Stratford, is now embarking on a six-week national UK tour.

It is directed by Lucy Bailey, whose acclaimed production of Julius Caesar was very well received during the RSC's 2009 Newcastle residency, and features Lisa Dillon and David Caves as the sparring lovers, Katharina and Petruchio.

Lisa Dillon is known to millions as Mary Smith in the BBC drama Cranford.

On stage she has played Desdemona in Othello for the RSC, with other stage credits including The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other and Present Laughter.

David Caves's previous work includes The Beggar's Opera (Open Air Theatre), Macbeth and Troilus and Cressida (Cheek By Jowl), and Stones in his Pocket (UK tour).

"Although written more than 400 years ago, The Taming of the Shrew is a surprisingly modern piece," says Lucy.

"Shakespeare explodes the orthodox view of marriage as primarily a business transaction that ensures financial security and legitimate descendents.

"Instead, he champions marriage as a meeting of souls, and an instinctive love bond with one's true mate."

Michael Boyd, artistic director of the RSC, adds: "We have a deep and long-standing relationship with Newcastle audiences and I am delighted to begin our national tour of The Taming of the Shrew at the Theatre Royal as the theatre celebrates its 175th birthday."

It runs until March 3. GORDON BARR

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TIMELESS Scenes from The Taming of the Shrew which is a major UK touring production from the RSC opening in Newcastle tonight
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 23, 2012
Words:358
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