The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged]
1531 Tyler Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103
By Jeff Smith
Hey, this one's fun. I've seen several versions of speed-read Shakespeare, including the original, by the Reduced Shakespeare Company (who'd performed it so many times the trio just tried to entertain each other). The Lotus Theatre/Talent to aMuse version stands up to any and all. They blast through the plays, often with updated references (Chernobyl Kinsmen, Titus Androgynous - as a cooking show). Director Sophie Anderson Ziebell stresses the sheer impossibility of the task, and the cast (Kevin Six, Tyler Richard Hewes, and Tom Hall) performs with an urgency that stays funny: i.e. when asked to do an insane task, go loopy (the only questionable choice: four-letter language narrows the potential audience). The Swedenborg Hall has never been lit better (Marie Miller), and the sound design/background music (Blair Robert Nelson) is a real plus as well.
Worth a try.
August 6 Through August 29
* Thursdays at 8 p.m.
* Fridays at 8 p.m.
* Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Satire the sincerest accolade for The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
It will be difficult to see Kevin Six, Tom Hall, or Tyler Richards Hewes in a serious play without remembering that they crucified the works of The Bard in The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)*, which can be seen Thursday thru Saturday at Swedenborg Hall thru August 29th. The show is produced by Lotus Theatre Collective and Talent to aMuse.
Writers Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield have reduced the body of The Bard’s work to about 80 minutes. The result is often just a mention of a play’s name. However, Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, Othello, and Hamlet receive much more than a mere mention.
The three actors, all marvels of fast costume changes, easily take on Shakespeare’s various characters. This includes some hilarious cross-gender situations. Their scripted ad libs were convincing. The script does call for personalizing the performance to the local venue. In Othello the intrepid trio rapped their abridged version. This pretty much rapped up Act One. Well, except for the football game carried on by the cast in the audience area.
Act II is devoted primarily to their abbreviated Hamlet. The script calls for the mention of Sir Laurence Olivier; however, they opted to mention a well known local actor with a strong Scottish brogue.
Warning to Shakespeare purist: You will hate “compleat.” To the rest of, have a blast, laugh and cry at this brutalization. It is one of the best spoofs on the honored one. I was fortunate, a few years ago, to see the three playwrights do the show. While a slightly different take on the script, Lotus Theatre Collective’s production is just as funny. In fact, I liked their less than elegant costumes even more the rather elegant costumes of the former production.
I do hope you have room on your calendar to take in The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Swedenborg Hall is located at 1531 Tyler in Hillcrest. All shows are at 8 p.m. I truly hope that Shakespeare is laughing heartily in his grave. Oh, there is one point of contention: The playwrights spelled it “compleat” not as in the program ‘complete.’
Review by Hitch
[Note: The spelling of “Complete” (or Hitch’s “Compleat”) in the title of the play, as found on the authors’ website (www.reducedshakespeare.com/shakespeare.php), is indeed “Complete”]
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
is a rollicking and irreverent spoof of well, yes, the complete works. Produced by the Lotus Theatre Company and ably acted by a cast of only three people, this high energy and quick paced tongue in cheek homage is clever and funny.
The play was written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield and opened at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987. It has been a popular show ever since, performed in various languages around the globe.
Directed by Sophie Anderson-Ziebell, the founder of Lotus Theatre Collective, the San Diego production stars Kevin Six, Tom Hall, and Tyler Richard Hewes. They overact, sing, dance, and cavort to perfection, but do get chances to demonstrate their Shakespearean chops a time or two, and to their credit. Each of them plays many roles and the action is constant as they grab prop swords and don wigs, running on and off stage and physically working hard to successfully keep up a frenetic pace throughout.
They have to move fast to work in all 38 works included, however briefly, in this satire.
There is a little bit of every piece written by Will in here, and the ways the various bits are woven into the play are imaginative, with a lot of verbal interaction between the players and the audience, and some physical audience participation as well. Pay attention closely or you could miss some of the rapid fire dialogue.
Although the costuming, by Abigail Hughes (wife of actor Tyler) is traditional, the music is contemporary and provides the perfect backdrop when the company lapses into a couple of very funny musical numbers.
If you check your reverence for the bard at the door, and let yourself go in this over the top theatrical experience, you will enjoy yourself.
The play is stage[managed]d by Lizzie Silverman, assisted by Kirsten Turkle. The Sound design is provided by Blair Nelson and Lighting Design is by Marie Miller. It runs 1 hour and 38 minutes, including an intermission.
Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), produced by the Lotus Theatre Collective (www.lotustheatrecollective.com), is running August 6 – 29 at Swedenborg Hall in San Diego. The Hall is at 1531 Tyler Avenue, San Diego, Ca.
Review by Kathleen Downs