This is my friend and most admired business colleague Kate Upcraft, upright, outspoken upholder of the truth in all things payroll.
I thought of her last night – as I watched the Globe’s production of the Taming of the Shrew. Of course they’ve been trying to tame Kate Upcraft a long time now and some have even called her some modern equivalent of a shrew. I’d define “shrew” as a “disruptive female who isn’t prepared to do what she is told by any man”.
The classical interpretation of the play is that Kate learns her lesson from her alpha-male and normal order is resumed as Kate delivers a homily to female servitude;
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands below your husband’s foot;
In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready, may it do him ease.
Of course it’s a lot more complicated than that.
It may be Shakespeare’s outrageous comedy, but it’s deeply problematic and any production that tries to paint the story black or white misses Kate’s point.
The consequences of suppression
The Globe’s production sets the tale in 1916 Dublin, a time not just of violent insurrection but of some important legislation enshrining rights to Irish women. While the first half of Caroline Byrne’s production is farce, the second is troubled not just by Petruchio’s misogony but by his outright abuse.
Katherine in this production might be Kathleen ni Houlihan, the fenian representation of Ireland. She subjects herself to abnegation, suppressing her ego to the shame of her man. The production points not just to the subjection of Irish womanhood but to the subjection of the Irish Nation.
Maybe I should do a version of Taming of the Shrew with Kate representing payroll. Pensions have had the upper hand for as a time and payroll has been tamed , but the pension industry (which has historically been a male hegemony) now looks as awkward as Petruchio.
Am I on some kind neo-liberal guilt trip? If you are going to the Learn Centre’s conference next Thursday, you’ll hear me talk for half an hour about how payroll managers are stepping into the shoes of pension managers and how payroll bureaux are becoming the new pension intermediaries.
It’s odd – but you can’t keep a good Kate down!