When Petruchio pulls up his coat to reveal that he's wearing assless pants, director Richard Hamburger, intentionally or not, makes his final statement to the Dallas Theater Center audience. To the Dallas theater community as a whole. This is Hamburger's last production in a 15-year tenure in which his taste in shows often has been at odds with his subscribers (and his critics). His take on Shakespeare's classic battle of the sexes is another of his oddballs--a baffling blend of Project Runway-level couture (dig those bubble dresses on Kate, but why does Petruchio's coat have eight sleeves?), iconic showbiz images (one of Bianca's suitors is an old Liberace lookalike in a wheelchair) and psychedelic lighting. Besides the two-cheek moon by Petruchio (nice buns on imported actor Jonno Roberts), there are giant Mickey Mouse heads worn by that character and his servant (Jakie Cabe) in one scene. In the second half of the evening, Petruchio sports a Mickey Mouse T-shirt. It might be over-analyzing to see this as Hamburger's last slap at what he considers a Mickey Mouse regional playhouse not deserving of his artistic abilities. Or not. Doesn't matter. Hamburger's Shakespeare is tricked up with more silly gimmicks than a Disneyland magic show. In the middle, Petruchio picks up an electric guitar and screams like a rock star. At the end, everyone sings "Love and Marriage" as the lyrics scroll up a screen overhead. The cast strains with the false energy of people pretending to have a good time at a party nobody wants to be at. All over the set, stuffed pigeons peer down on the proceedings. The whole thing is for the birds. Through May 13 at Dallas Theater Center, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. 214-522-8499.
Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: April 18. Continues through May 13
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