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BWW Review: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) at Susquehanna Stage

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The production runs from September 10th -25th

BWW Review: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) at Susquehanna Stage

Hang on to your seat and do your best to keep up! Susquehanna Stage's production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, is beyond fast-paced, verging on breakneck speed.

Hilariously over-the-top slapstick is not what most people associate with Shakespeare, so, if you are looking for a serious Shakespearian experience, this is not it. Instead, audiences are treated to a laugh-a-minute spoof of the Bard that requires little knowledge of his plays (although a little knowledge helps). The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, got its start in the renaissance fair circuit and quickly rose in popularity. The premise is simple: perform thirty-eight Shakespeare plays in only an hour and a half. Making things more challenging, there are only three actors and minimal props.

To succeed at such a show is no small task. There's a lot that could have gone wrong and take this script from hysterical punnery and vaudeville, to campy confusion. Director Kevin Ditzler faced two main challenges: 1. Find a cast with not only great comedic timing and tom foolery, but strong chemistry to play off one another, and 2. Take a script with lots of leeway and ensure it connects to a modern audience. Fortunately for this audience, Ditzler scored big on both. The trio of actors was not only remarkably talented and individually a joy to watch, their physical comedy and timing together worked effortlessly as though they'd been together for years. The added touches to the script (including references to local establishments) along with audience participation activities, keeps the show fresh and the audience engaged. One can only assume that it was Ditzler's faith in his actors that created the space for the improvisational flare that colored this production.

Although we never see him, a fourth character in this show is "Bob the lighting man". The team of technical director, Jason Spickler, and lighting designer, Jim Shomo, pull off this illusion of an offstage character seamlessly. Creative props by Georgiana Staley, and costumes by Jacquee Johnson, added laughs and brilliantly walked the line between creating effective imagery and facilitating remarkably quick changes.

If you are longing for somber Shakespearian monologues (although this show does have some) and tragic love stories, this is not your show. If you are interested in laughing out loud and enjoying a signature cocktail, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare presented by Susquehanna Stage at the Marietta Center for the Arts is a perfect evening. To learn more about this and other shows, visit: https://www.susquehannastage.com/


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