Tag Archives: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

9 Apr

The more discerning theatre-goer might surmise from the title that this is a comedy.

The fourth wall is firmly down as three actors share their attempt to present all 36 of Shakespeare’s plays.

Having said that, only Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Hamlet are presented in any meaningful way (providing that wacky parody fits your definition of ‘meaningful’.) Most of the other plays are merely namedropped. Considering the alternative, this is in no way a criticism.

As an abridgement of Shakespeare’s plays, The Complete Works is equivalent to summarising Moby Dick with the word ‘whale’.

Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, it’s been kicking around since the 1980’s. Ironically, for a piece that responds to our obsession with the Bard, I’ve seen it more times than I’ve seen most of his plays.

There’s some theatre in-jokes, but no need for any knowledge of the canon. The whole thing operates simply as an opportunity for some seriously crazy comedy. It’s audacious, exuberant and effervescent. Under the skilful direction of Madeleine Withington, the brilliant cast (Alexander Spinks, Lib Campbell and Tel Benjamin) gives this madness the high energy performances it deserves.

Once or twice the poetic (though not the dramatic) genius of Shakespeare is allowed to shine through, creating a poignant contrast that only enhances our enjoyment of the zaniness.

The original play is designed to facilitate improv and extra dialogue, and this team add some contemporary sparkle. (Though I’m not sure the references to the venue, both its history and nature, are conducive to the openhearted relaxed mood required to appreciate this sort of playful froth.)

Rachel Scane’s design is magnificent. Part locker room, part synthetic playing court, and peopled with characters in daggy sportswear, it’s a world where the trivial competes with the impossible, as weirdly captivating as the silliest of Guinness Book of Record feats.

80 minutes of energising entertainment; Shakespeare would have loved it.

Paul Gilchrist

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield

presented by Precipice Creative

at Meraki Arts Bar until 22 April


Image by Clare Hawley