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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

a Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 3470

SHOWING : August 08, 2009 - September 06, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

An irreverent, hilarious, high-speed romp through all 37 of the Bard's plays (and 154 sonnets) in two hours! Othello goes Hip-Hop, Titus Andronicus a cooking show, and all the Histories are performed as a football game. All of this performed by THREE ACTORS.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Maurice Ralston
Production Stage Manager Cindy Kearns
Assistant Stage Manager Deborah McGriff
Jess Tony Brown
Adam Paul Hester
Daniel Andrew Houchins
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

This Just Never Gets Old
by Dedalus
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
5.0
This is the fourth production of this goof that I’ve encountered, and I’ve never seen a production I didn’t like. Each cast brings to the party their own personalities, their own takes and ad-libs, and each passing year brings new topical digressions and allusions. Even the original radio shows by the Reduced Shakespeare Company (from whose foreheads this script sprang, near fully grown, if childish and vomit-ridden) still makes me laugh.

So it was that I left the Shakespeare Tavern’s current venture, my face numb from sheer laughing.

I do have to confess that I missed the tavern’s prior mountings, so I went with few expectations, other than a chance to see Shakespeare professionals tackle the parodies from a place of experience. They didn’t disappoint. I expected great things from Andrew Houchins and Tony Brown, both of whom I cited as deserving Suzi nominations for previous work this season (and they delivered). But, for me, it was relative newcomer Paul Hester who almost ran away with the show. Bringing a wide-eyed innocence to all his characters, he also brought a smorgasbord of character voices and attitudes that added an unexpected talent-razzle to the silliness. I especially liked his Juliet (a 21st-century ‘tween if I ever heard one) and his more mature (if that’s the right word) Ophelia. And, to top that off, he hit the serious “What a piece of work is man” digression out of the Globe. I definitely look forward to seeing more from him this season.

What makes this such a fun show to revisit is seeing how different casts handle the interaction. Half the pleasure is seeing how the three actors show such disbelief (and horror) at the antics of their co-stars, how they all strive to corpse each other (and, it was fun this to time to see old pro Tony Brown “lose it” a couple times). This is a play that allows such “unprofessional” lapses, and even encourages them. This was a case, too, of the audience being a fourth character, of “heckling” being encouraged and responded to in kind.

So what new stuff does this mounting have to offer the repeat viewer? More than one Michael Jackson reference, a nice Sarah Palin Joke, prop silly string filling in for vomit, boxer shorts as part of the wardrobe, a Hamlet swordfight that was more Looney Tunes than bravura choreography, just to name a few off the top of my head.

And what same old same old stuff does this production make seem fresh and new? The “Othello” rap, the reverse (and really-fast “Hamlets”), the bad wigs, the seemingly effortless character and costume whiplash-changes, the “Titus Andronicus” cookfest (made nicely fresh by GSF’s recent full production), the bad Scottish accents, the “Hamlet” Ophelia-subtext audience-participation digression, pretty much everything else, and, especially, the frequent interactions with the audience (which, of course, is what the Tavern does best).

Earlier this year, I took the Tavern’s production of “Irma Vep” to task for being all-schtick-no-acting. This was almost the response to that observation – a play that was also “all-schtick,” but, in this case, it was grounded by real characterization and real acting. Sure, the cast was, in effect, playing themselves (or at least fictional versions of themselves), but I never got the impression the schtick was desperate gimmicks from the “actor’s bag of tricks.” This time, it came across as well-planned, well-executed comic business that was fully appropriate and fully appreciated.

So, if you love Shakespeare, love the Tavern’s style, love to laugh, this is a production of a show that never seems to get old. And, it looks as if there are several productions in the area from which you can choose.

This is one I loved.
.
-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
relative newcomer? by Okely Dokely
I'm glad you're seeing and reviewing a lot more shows at the Tavern (though it does make me wish you were doing that the year I apprenticed there and did 4 shows with them within a year).

Anyway, I'd hardly consider Paul Hester a "relative newcomer" as you said. Though he's barely made a dent in Atlanta theater other than the Tavern, he's done TONS of stuff at the Tavern, and is one of their best young actors. Ever since he did his apprenticeship in the 03-04 season, he's gone on to play roles like George Gibbs in Our Town, Hotspur in Richard II, Petruchio in Shrew, Guildenstern in R&G Are Dead, Paris, Tybalt, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, and many others that you can count on at least two hands. Doing all the Tavern stuff got him his Equity card in 2007. Last year he was in Eurydice at the Alliance, and if you enjoy his work (as I imagine anyone who has seen him perform would), he can be seen this fall in Around the World in 80 Days at Theatrical Outfit.
Well, I'm embarrassed ... by Dedalus
Thanks for setting the record straight, as well as highlighting Mr. Hester's work. I expect to see wonderful things from him in the future! Maybe the operative word in my phrase should be "relative" rather than "newcomer." That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :-)
Call me Butt Love
by Okely Dokely
Friday, August 14, 2009
4.0
This was my second time seeing CWWC at the Tavern (or anywhere). Saw it in 2007. I unfortunately missed it the year Mr. McKerley was in the cast, but I enjoy Andy Houchins. Just as much of a fearless goof willing to try anything on stage, and usually succeed.

Maybe it was the typical Thursday night crowd, or the fact that I've already seen the production before with the same cast at the same theater with about 95% of the same gags, but it took a little while for it to gather steam and momentum. The start felt slow. But they were up to the wonderful standard I remember by the time they got into the R&J sketch.

When I saw this 2 years ago, I was in the front row, stage right, house left (the "maybe, maybe not" section for those in the know). This time around, I was in one of the box sections on the floor (Section B - "paint an inch thick"). Paul Hester delivers his first lines in the show from the audience. I could hear him just fine in 2007 because of where I was, but was behind him this time and almost completely lost what he was saying. Project, Mr. Hester, so nobody is left out. I know you can do it.

Overall, this was consistently as good as the last time, with an impressive amount of talent and energy from all 3 men. My favorite bits were the Othello rap and the MacB*** part (though Tony Brown has been misquoting Fat Bastard. The accurate line is "I'm dead sexy," not "damn sexy" as Tony's been saying.)

This show was certainly good enough to recommend, and I'll see it again if they do it again, but next time I'll try to go on a night with a larger and livelier crowd, because they really are an extra character in a show like this. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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