@The Hogarth Press
+Vintage Digital Agency
The Hogarth Press got in touch with eight acclaimed writers to put a modern spin on Shakespeare Plays of their choosing. I chose to read Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girls, published under project Hogarth Shakespeare, as I love Anne Tyler immensely.
Anne Tyler brings The Taming of the Shrew to life in Baltimore. Except Kate Batista cannot really be called a shrew now. She is merely a blunt person who lacks social skills. She has been caring for her father and younger sister, Bunny for years now. Her social life is, of course, non-existent. She has a sort of a crush on a fellow teacher, but does nothing about it. She seems content to spend the rest of her life gardening, working at a day-care and being the housekeeper.
Her father, Louis Batista is a brilliant scientist. At home is just a lost father who likes to lean a bit too much on his elder daughter, and be a bit too indulgent with his younger one. His assistant at work is about to be deported and he wants Kate to marry him. This is such a preposterous idea that Kate is outraged. Pyotr, the man in question, is an orphan from Russia. He seems to take a fancy to Kate, he actually enjoys her bluntness and likes her long hair. Kate turns into a prickly cactus on seeing him.
Here we get to see the comic touch of Anne Tyler. The exchanges between Kate, her father, Pyotr and Bunny are hilarious. Tyler has a deft touch with her characters, and she seems to have some special skills with displaced people. Her portrayal of the Iranian American Maryam in 'Digging to America' was simply brilliant. Here also, she is deeply sympathetic (without seeming so) with Pyotr, with his peculiar accent and choice of words.
Vinegar Girl is primarily about Kate Batista and her jaundiced view of life in general. It is also about a displaced person (Pyotr) who is trying claim some space in this world for himself. He has left his country where he had no one and is trying to adapt to a new country where no one seems to be willing to accommodate him.
This is a link to other projects of Hogarth Shakespeare that are published or due out soon.