Silliness is the order of the day in The Eagle Theatre’s production of The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s comic assemblage, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED); and that is not a criticism. Writers Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield have combined 37 of the Bard of Avon’s plays into one evening of theatre performed by just three actors, and use every trick in the book to elicit laughs.
Director Ted Wioncek III keeps things moving and his cast – Kevin Hurley, Jonathon Fink and Ed “Rico” Santiago – races through the material with spirit and energy. The highlight of the production is an extended but still abbreviated take on Hamlet. Along the way, there are glimpses of everything from Romeo & Juliet to Othello to Titus Andronicus…in ways you’ve never imagined.
The comedy is broad, filled with slapstick and gags that have their origins in vaudeville, commedia or maybe the British music hall tradition. The evening is also peppered with random contemporary references that add some up-to-date interest.
Hurley, Fink and Santiago are engaging and enthusiastic performers, creating distinct characters and easily interacting with the audience, transitioning on a dime and going at lightning speed.
The proceedings had a little awkwardness at the beginning (on this night, at least) and the overall approach is a little rough-around-the-edges at times. There are moments when the players go a bit too fast, and words get lost in unclear articulation. On occasion, velocity trumps pacing. Just hold on and enjoy the ride…they’ll never fail to entertain you.
Chris Miller’s lighting design is a standout among the technical elements, creating atmosphere and mood as well as keeping up with the on-stage shenanigans. Justin Worth’s set is simply done but effective and nicely executed. The costumes are a mixed bag, and often fly by almost as quickly as the lines, complimenting the tone of the piece and contributing to the humor in many cases.
In the end, this is fast and funny theatre and these three actors earn every bit of laughter and applause they get.
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED)
by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield
Directed by Ted Wioncek III
March 1 – 23, 2013
The Eagle Theatre
208 Vine Street