Gang Affiliated? Bella's Run Rings 'Round Sly in HER Productions Latest Shakesperean Reworking

If they be waspish - best beware their sting...
Colin Petch
June 10, 2024

HER Productions return this summer with their 6th annual Shakespeare Production once again mixing it up and laying down their own take on one of Shakespeare’s most talked-about and subversive comedies – The Taming of The “Shrew”. Running at Hope Mill Theatre on June 19 – 30, the production will then move to Shakespeare North Playhouse and conclude its run with two nights at Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield on 17 and 19 July.

The plot focuses on a drunken patron (Sly) who falls victim to the gang of ‘Bella’s’, who run and operate a cabaret club. As Sly wakes from his wild night, he is told a story, supporting a wider prank that Sly is not a drunken patron, but a Lord of great status and wealth. Our Bella’s spin him a tale about a wealthy merchant of Padua, and two daughters: Katherina and Bianca. Because of Katherina’s “shrewish” disposition, her father has declared that no one shall wed Bianca until such a time as Katherina has been married. But why are they telling him this story? And what is Sly’s connection to the women?

With their signature all female and non-binary cast, HER Productions continue to put their creative flair and original stamp on Shakespeare classics – this time setting their Taming of the “Shrew” in a Cabaret club, fusing the worlds of burlesque, clowns and cabaret to explore this politically charged and much-loved play.

Hannah Ellis Ryan, HER Productions founder and actress – perhaps known best to Corrie fans as the “evil” Hannah Gilmore whom she played for 35 episodes, is turning her hand at directing for the first time after her six plus years of producing these legacy Shakespeare projects. She will be stepping into the Director chair alongside co-director: Amy Gavin. With a background in cabaret and burlesque, Amy will lead on creating the 'Shrew's' vibrant world of cabaret, while Hannah focuses on the dramaturgy and support around Shakespearian text.  

Hannah comments: "It would be no exaggeration to say these Shakespeare projects are the highlight of my year. To now step up and direct for the first time – I am beyond thrilled but I could not do so without one of my greatest friends and collaborators by my side. Amy and I have known each other for over 10 years and trust each other implicitly. Our vision for Taming of the 'Shrew' has always been so vibrant, so clear and I could not be more excited for us to bring it to life with this outrageously talented cast. We will feature “10 Things I Hate About You” references, Clown, Cabaret, Pole Dancing, crochet beards and so much more. Audiences are in for a real treat.”

The Taming of the Shrew is playing at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester from 19-30 June (Press Night Thurs 20th) followed by Shakespeare North’s Cockpit Theatre from July 10-13 and Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield on 17 and 19 July.