BWW Review: COMPLETE WORKS OF WM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED)(REVISED) at DE Theatre Company

BWW Review: COMPLETE WORKS OF WM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED)(REVISED) at DE Theatre Company

Madcap. Zany. Sophisticated Marx Brothers. Come one, come all to a Shakespearean jihad at DE Theatre Company with THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WM. SHAKESPEARE (abridged and revised). Cliff Notes of The Bard on speed (even though the opening scene introduced Bob Cratchit. HA.)

Three experienced actors work in a tight ensemble. They had never met each other before rehearsal. That alone is noteworthy in that the frenetic interplay requires utmost confidence in each other's skillset, physical comedy and timing.

The Fourth Wall is dissolved from the very opening. Actor 1 is introduced to us as he sat in the audience.
Actor 3 informs us the play's mission is modest and unapologetic: "to create a feat unprecedented in modern history", to educate all of us in ALL the works of Shakespeare...in two hours!

Refreshingly - from their program bios - none of the trio takes himself too seriously. Their credentials are nonetheless mightily impressive. Actor 3 (Josh Carpenter) gained one can only imagine how much experience as a mascot at a Sting concert. Actor 2 (Jeffrey Hawkins) played the title role in WAITING FOR GODOT. Actor 1 (John Zak) states he is an actor of great emotional depth and a 'memorable performer' ..." if you don't remember his performance, then he wasn't in it".

Note: If there is anytime soon a live stage production of "Laurel and Hardy", look no further than John Zak for Stan Laurel. Each time Zak entered I envisioned Laurel scratching the top of his head.

All the program bios are quite funny and off the wall. Yes, Lighting Designer Andrew Griffin, I did get to the seat early. Yes, I had time to kill due to the fact that my date was miffed at me. I DID read your bio and yes, I am a critic. (although not of this show!)

Note to Bud Martin: I TOO saw this show 10 years ago at DTC but I would never ever comment on your derriere, no matter what I thought then or now.

This show requires silly loons and this triumvirate succeeds most exceedingly. References to Eva Peron and Hitler in Shakespeare? Macbeth as a Scottish golfer? Othello divulging the fact he loves limoncello? Why not? If it makes sense to them, the audience should be convinced...and we are... (as we gasp for breath between guffaws).

The playwrights constantly revise the dialogue for topical issues. So, for all you Trumpsters out there, steel yourself. Your authoritarian hero takes numerous (and well deserved) hits. Those hysterical (and sadly, true) comments were well received. Not one audience member yelled 'fake news'.

The first act is taken up with 36 of the 37 plays. (The show could trim down by 2 minutes the elongated monologue before the word 'intermission' is said).

Act II is all (well, almost all) about Hamlet. This is where the interactive hijinks with the audience commences. Oh, I forgot something. Costumer Barbara Hughes demanded authentic Elizabethan dress so she had the players sporting pastel high-top Chuck Converse All Stars. Actor 1 looks swank in flowing gowns and was winsome in the wig as Gertrude (Hamlet's Mom). Zak played the woman in most all of the female scenes and by and large had the audience fooled.

There is a bit wherein a female audience member is brought on stage to play the screaming woman role of someone who had just witnessed a dastardly and grisly death. This poor dear I am certain had never been on stage before. Her first scream was wonderfully wimpy. The audience went nuts. She did far better on the second attempt and was applauded wildly.

The ensemble's HAMLET in reverse is a tour de force.

Aisle Say saw Director Steve Tague in many UD REP Ensemble productions. Farces at REP are my favorite memories. PAD Martin chose wisely with this director.

This show is fun on many levels. It truly does give you snippets of the greatest novelist in world history. It is not pretentious in any way. It gets all of us involved. AND, thankfully, it makes us laugh!!

Through December 23 DelawareTheatre.org 302.594.1100

Next Up: GO FIGURE: THE Randy Gardner STORY Jan 17

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