Tuesday, July 4, 2017

CT Theater Review: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) -- Playhouse on Park

 Photo: Curt Henderson
The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)
By Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield
Directed by Tom Ridgely
Playhouse on Park
Through July 30

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
Well, like the title says, it's the complete works of William Shakespeare abridged.  All 37 of the Bard's plays are incorporated in this 100-minute comedic presentation with all of the characters being played by three actors, Playhouse on Park Co-Artistic Director Sean Harris, Rich Hollman and Hannah Cheek.

Presented as a theatrical offering by a hapless troupe, the show focuses on their bumbling attempts to re-enact well know scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet  and Julius Caesar then takes farcical license with others, interpreting Titus Andronicus as a cooking show, for example. Other's make their appearance in name only or with a single reference.

What Are the Highights?
The actors seem to be having fun, and Hollman looks silly in Elizabethan dresses and mop wigs.  A scene depicting the battle for the throne among Shakespeare's kings is well staged as a mock football game where the crown gets passed among the players.

The play was first published 20 years ago, but has been updated by Singer and Winfield to include modern references, which were a welcome addition to a play which seemed pretty out of date the last time I saw it.

What Are the Lowlights?
It's a play that wants to be a fast-paced, witty farce, but isn't. There are moments, but the parody never really finds its footing. This is not a reflection on the actors -- the material isn't sharp enough. And the pace drags a bit, almost as though the authors are basking in their own cleverness. It is a light, fun show, but doesn't reach its potential.

More Information:
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) plays at Playhouse on  Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford, through July 30. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm.   A special Tuesday matinee will be held on July 18 at 2 pm, with specially priced tickets: playhouseonpark.org; 860-523-5900 x10.


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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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