By Lynn Geyer
“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised],” penned by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, was first performed in Scotland in 1987.
The play holds the distinction of running in London’s West End for nine non-stop years. “Non-stop” is the operative word here, because this show is permeated with non-stop.
From the instant the first actor appears on stage to the final reworking of “Hamlet,” director Suzy Willhoft, with the apparent aid of her three-man cast, has filled the Bard with more hilarity and action than Willy could ever imagine.
Tacoma Little Theatre has revised their last year’s production of this comical, slightly disrespectful, 97-minute-long parody of all of Shakespeare’s 37 plays plus a modicum of his sonnets, and produced a glowing gem which would have had the Bard rolling in the aisles along with the audience.
There’s a fine line between direction by a director and “leading” an actor in the right direction. Willhoft apparently has expertly done the latter, as there is so much improvisation in the production, it would be virtually impossible for her to direct the unexpected. The improv is what could make this offering a slightly different show each night.
Sarahann Rickner and Sophie Nevin are double Stage Managers, which is understandable with a fast-paced show like this – there’s a lot of back stage work to be done and two are more able than one. Michele Graves furnishes the costume design and Niclas R. Olson does the lights. All tech people do quite well with their assignments.
However, this show belongs to the actors – Luke Amundson, Blake R. York and Colman Hagerman – who strut and fret their hour upon the stage and are heard – loud and clear!
Amundson greets the audience with the information that they will, indeed, perform synopsizes of all the Bard’s 37 plays – taking on the persona of more than 300 characters – in just 97 minutes. Amundson is so self-assured that one could imagine that, if need be, he could do the task alone.
He is shortly joined by York, who flits from character to character with the alacrity of a butterfly in a bed of iris. Of course, it’s all fun and games and over-the-top buffoonery, especially when York plays Ophelia. However, amidst the howls of laughter, when he does a monologue from “Hamlet” so perfectly, this consummate actor shows his true prowess and diversity.
Last, but far, far from least is Coleman Hagerman. This 17-year-old young man not only excels in acting and stage movement, including fencing and fighting, he does comedy and drama equally well. On top of that, he is an accomplished musician of more than half a dozen different instruments – from accordion to violin; he sings, as well.
In short, Hagerman is the answer to a director’s prayers and an audience’s delight.
Be prepared – this comedic trio can make things up as they go along – things which could involve the audience. If you’ve ever had a hankering to be in a play this could be your chance.
With three such brilliant actors, a good director and spot-on tech crew, it is a natural that this show is a wonderful way for the new Managing Artistic Director Chris Serface to welcome in the Tacoma Little Theatre’s 95th Season
“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]” continues at Tacoma Little Theatre at 210 North I Street through September 22 at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with 2 p.m. matinees Sundays.
For more information or to make reservations, call the theatre at (253) 272-2281 or go online to www.tacomalittletheatre.com.
The very short run of this special encore production of hilarity is at the remarkable price of only $10 per seat! There was only one thing wrong with the opening night performance – there were empty seats in the house!
Turn off the computer and the TV; grab your spouse and even the kids and get on down to TLT for the laugh you can’t get over cable – Live Theatre – it’s a blast!