Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark

"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)"

by Adam Long, Daniel Singer & Jess Winfield
Directed by Steve Barkhimer

Stage Manager Tori Woodhouse


Risher Reddick
Gabriel Kutner
Daniel Berger-Jones

27 July, '09
As I wandered yesternoon upon that greeny Charles-bank --- whereon Publick men with Diego or spiro before him at their head did perform rites of worship to that Thespis whom I call my god --- I met a strange sight: an upstart crew of wastrels, "Orfeo" yclept, were hard at bard-baiting. They purported to present all thirty-seven screeds once writ by he who did indeed invent our English language, rolled entire into the flick of a single hour-glass!

Well, if brevity be the soul of wit, lay on! quoth I, and damned be he who first cries Hold! I soon saw they were, by rude, mechanical jest to make sport of that goodlie Will Shagsberd who shared many a cup o' sack wi' me in our youthful Mermaid Tavern days. No tragedie but served as skeleton in which to sink satiric fangs. Here see Juliet as should be played by a boy, bewigged and kirtled and in a monstrous little voice, yet played in a Beard --- a tawny beard (a Tyrant's beard!) --- and fending her hot Romeo's demands with "I ain't gonna kiss ya, Dude!"

Switchings of costumes came thick and fast, till 'stead of a mere three meseemed I saw o'er a dozen capering clowns rushing full-tilt from play to play to play, buskins a-sizzle at the speed.

I did marvel at this trio compacting all Will's comedies into one Daytime Serial, with lines a-popping out a-witch-a-way, and then assaying such short shrift to the histories (and who amongst you has sat through all three Henry Sixes with ne'er a yawn?). A nod or two to Othello and Macb(Whoops!) that damned Scottish show --- and so swift the shrifting they seemed ready record-breakers with but one last play to go --- when discord shakes the scene and one of their number says Nay, he will not play the melancholy Dane!

Consternation and chaos abound with yond adamantine mountebank, obdurate against his importuning fellows, who breaks four walls to run amongst us groundlings and when pursued, he snatches up a wee bairn of some seven month swearing, should they chase, he will do the bonny boy a mischief --- and flees!

As a fellow thespian gave chase, sudden from the wings there lept a distraught Orfeo producer: "Risher!" mis-quoth she, "What have you done with that baby!" (and e'en from the Wrong Play!) and races along the bankside in lusty pursuit.

Shall I crush all suspense to tell the rest? Say I only the interruption was of so long enduring it could be called "Intermission" before trio bairn and all compact together again to complete "The Complete Works of Wilm Shaxy (Abridged)" to 'plauding and huzzahs from all present.

This "Orfeo Fest" starts early with preludes every day --- a delightfully informative lecture on "The Music of The Spheres" and a set by a folk-singer and her guitar were the hors-d'oeuvres for me --- and "The Complete W.O.W.S.(A)" eschews all artificial light, so get there early and get home early too. If you bring meat, ex-cook and thespian Gabriel Kuttner will barbecue it to tasty perfection, and a mere four dollars can get you a small beer (or India Pale Ale) to accompany the food and the FREE performance --- though I cannot guarantee an infant will earn Equity Minimum the night you attend. Kutner, Risher Reddick and Daniel Berger-Jones act the show more or less as devised by Adam Long, Daniel Singer & Jess Winfield with Steve Barkhimer directing and Tori Woodhouse stage-managing and picking up all the props and wigs and beards and maybe babies even after the show. It's more than merely a play, and it's certainly worth any donation you can make.

And, great news, it's so successful the run's been extended!

( a k a larry stark )

"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" (till 22 August)
@ Ye Publick Theatre Herter Park, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide