Ipswich: Tame? Not a chance! Red Rose Chain’s theatre in the forest takes over Jimmy’s Farm

Red Rose Chain's The Taming of the Shrew. Photos: Nick Woolgar

Red Rose Chain's The Taming of the Shrew. Photos: Nick Woolgar - Credit: Archant

Red Rose Chain cordially invite you to the wedding of the beautiful Bianca Minola; well, that’s the plan. First there’s her sister Kate the Curst, the scariest girl in all of Italy, to sort out.

Red Rose Chain's The Taming of the Shrew. Photos: Nick Woolgar

Red Rose Chain's The Taming of the Shrew. Photos: Nick Woolgar - Credit: Archant

Despite a massive dowry, men would rather die than marry her and everything looks bleak until Petruchio appears, determined to marry for money.

“I think people make the mistake of thinking it’s a sexist play, actually it’s a play about sexism which is a very very different thing. The way Shakespeare wrote women, the status, the complexity, the intensity, the brilliance he gave them; he obviously understood the quality of the sexes tremendously so,” says the theatre company’s Joanna Carrick.

“Our Kate (Kirsty Thorpe) is incredibly feisty and we are certainly not going to have her grovelling around at the end. There have been some productions where she ends up simpering and that’s horrible and unpalatable.”

It’s a play she’s always wanted to direct and is loving every moment.

“We’ve got the most incredible cast; there are six of them and it feels like there are 30. Downstairs Jimmy (Grimes, who has taken time off from his work at the National Theatre) is making puppets for the show and directing them. We really stepped up a gear with The Magic Fishbone and it’s really kicking in here again; they are amazing. They are three little Italian servants who sing brilliantly together, like the Three Tenors but with a difference.”

Set in Padua, the play gives Joanna the chance to draw on her Italian heritage.

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“I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy, my mum was Italian... the play’s set in 1960s Italy, but in a kind of fantasy version. Most of the action takes place in a piazza and then they have the long journeys and they keep falling off the horses. It’s just perfect to do in the woods. You can use the location to the best advantage.

“It’s very farcical, very funny, very physical. It is a love story and what will be a surprise for many people is that it is quite a sexy story – much more so than a romantic story like Romeo and Juliet, which can be over-powered by the tragedy. There are lots of Italian songs and music.. and it’s weddings, Italian weddings are such big things; all this me and my daughter and the hand gestures... we’ve been researching all those.

“Scott Ellis (Petruccio) and Kirsty (Kate) have great chemistry... it will be wonderful to watch the sparks fly.”

The cast and crew are enjoying the change of venue; their home for the next five years.

“It’s wonderful... everyone I’ve taken out there has said, without exception, ‘oh my God it’s so much better’. That’s the bottom line for me, I wouldn’t have moved unless I was confident it could match or exceed it. The woods are proper sort of Robin Hood woods... you’re much more in the forest than you were before.

“Rendlesham... we were there for 13 years and it was fabulous. Jimmy’s aren’t charging us anything to go there. They’re taking over the refreshments side of things which means we lose the income but we’re also losing the hassle. I’m not a caterer... I can’t tell you how stressful the summers have been, thinking about ‘have we got enough coffee’, ‘where’s the lettuce’...,” she laughs.

Red Rose Chain’s Taming of the Shrew runs at Jimmy’s Farm, Pannington Hall Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP9 2AR, to August 25. Read my review online now.

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