by Terrance Mc Arthur
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised) at the Woodward Shakespeare Festival is…
Wait a minute! Didn’t you review that show two weeks ago?
Yes, I did, but that was with a different cast.
They got rid of the actors you reviewed? But, you said you liked them!
Yes, I liked them, but no, they didn’t get rid of them. Because the show only has a 3-member cast, director Aaron Spjute chose two teams of three performers.
So, how are you going to review it? Reprint what you wrote, but change the names?
No (Welllll…maybe some of the information sections), because Spjute rehearsed each group separately, as if they were two different shows, and, in many ways, it’s like seeing two different productions of the same play. It’s still The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised). It’s still all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays smooshed into one show, and it’s still like watching “The Marx Brothers Do the Classics,” but it isn’t, because Katie Eugene, Donna Halliburton, and Broderic Beard aren’t the same as Samantha Hyde, Kia Vassiliades, and Renee Newlove, which is just fine, because both groups are great.
It’s like seeing Susan Sarandon and Meryl Streep in two versions of the same movie. You’ll enjoy each one, but for different reasons.
[This review focuses on the Eugene & Halliburton & Beard cast, which is currently performing on Thursdays and Saturdays (unless they change the schedule, again).]
Many people think Shakespeare is boring, because their teachers sucked all the cool out of his plays, and there are words that most people don’t have in their vocabularies. This play lets the actors play with the plays, have fun with them, and share that fun with the audience.
Have Titus Andronicus’s daughter—hands cut off and tongue cut out—perform on an ancient Roman version of American Idol? Makes sense to me.
Donna is tall, impressive, and has a carnivorous smile. She knows how to do justice to Shakespeare…and when to play fast and loose with the audience’s expectations.
Katie is graceful and serious when you least expect it, able to leap through Hamlet’s character in a single bound….and she’s pretty decent with hand puppets.
I thought it would be only fair to review both casts of this show. Little did I know that it would be a treat for me.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised) throws in rap, naughtiness, Hitler, paper-bag puppets, Star Wars, interpretive dance, The Walking Dead, and Freudian analysis into a laugh-out-loud mini-course of Shakespeare 101, and you’ll leave with a smile on your face…and sore ribs from sustained laughing. Hie thee to the northeast entrance of Woodward Park, pay the entry fee of $5, bring your blankets, chairs, tailgate dinner and what-have-you, and enjoy an evening of free Shakespeare (donations are encouraged; tights aren’t cheap, you know) under the stars and the wind. The Complete Works plays through September 19. Curtain time is 8 p.m.
William Shakespeare is whirling in his grave…in delight.
You can check out Terrance’s review of the first cast here: kingsriverlife.com/09/05/the-complete-works-of-william-shakespeare-abridged-revised
Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.