By Don and Peggy Doman, and Lavinia Hart
Peggy and I had seen “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” a number of years ago at Tacoma Little Theatre and Peg had seen it perhaps twice in Seattle a long time ago.
Lavinia as an actress, director, and teacher had also seen the play numerous times.
We laughed and laughed as the actors invaded the stage and wandered around immersing audience members into the production. I liked the red stamped “Revised” on the program. We wouldn’t expect anything less when it comes to live theater and an audience ready to relax, laugh, giggle, and join in on the fun.
The play was directed by Suzy Willhoft, a retired high school drama teacher/director and occasional actor. She had her actors involved all over the theater in the round, disappearing to the left and right, and addressing the audience from all four sides of her theatre.
The interplay involved three actors Emily Cohen (on the right), seemingly the Master of Ceremonies (and very proficient and funny in it), Everett McCracken (in the middle), and Laurice Roberts (on the left). The audience “volunteers” were fun to see as mostly stooges being acted around and intermittently involved.
The very energetic Emily Cohen, seemingly as the master of ceremonies, studied acting at the University of Puget Sound. I took only one acting class while attending UPS, but Peg and I have made up for that over the years by watching a number of productions on campus and involving interested theatre students in our video productions. Really energetic, Emily strode around the stage pulling in our interest.
Actor Everett McCracken was head and shoulders above the two actresses Emily Cohen and Laurice Roberts . . . since he was much taller. His character was lying on the floor several times during the two acts. He played a great buffoon. He did a nice job playing the ghost in the short Hamlet revival.
We really enjoyed Laurice Roberts. We had seen her and loved her work at Lakewood Playhouse in “Love, Loss and What I Wore.” We had also seen her in “Steel Magnolias” and “Luck of the Irish” at Tacoma Little Theatre. I think she looked the best in her costume, from her tennis shoes up to her neck. She was feisty and funny at the same time.
The costume design by Gavin Moore was really a big part of the play. From the high top tennies with tights, to the pantaloons (very poufy, as were the shirts) were augmented with numerous other ridiculous pieces and scarves as the actors proceeded through the production. The clownlike clothing really added to the idiocy.
All three actors provided an energetic and quite funny stage performance. They involved the audience in ways that give a new dimension to the concept of audience participation (both planted and volunteered?) Look for the woman wearing red heels in the audience. Was she a plant, or really just an audience member? We couldn’t tell.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)’s slapstick compressed all the bard’s plays into a fun evening of laughter and giggles. It was also fun picking up on quotations or partial quotations from various plays. The most hilarious segment of the reduced productions featured “Hamlet,” which is one of the most quoted plays. (Poor Ophelia had the fewest scenes.) Romeo and Juliet wasn’t bad either. The silliness ran rampant.
This production runs through October 8th. September 28th offers a “Pay What You Can” performance.
For tickets and more information, please visit: https://www.lakewoodplayhouse.org/season-85.html