The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged!) – Killed the Lily

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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Photo Courtesy: Fells Point Corner Theatre

A REVIEW BY ACHILLES FEELS

I always forget how charming Fells Point Corner Theatre is, especially their first-floor performance space (they’ve got another venue upstairs that’s not quite as large). The lobby is welcoming, the box-office, manned by Andrew Porter (board director) is friendly (when they remember you’ve reserved a ticket!) and the drinks are free. Parking is a pain in the ass, but they just started partnering with a lot around the corner for $5, during-the-show-only parking. It’s clean, it’s welcoming, it’s roomy, even for a small house, and it works! I hate being around the douchey crowd that is Fells, but these guys are just enough off the main-drag that it’s not a drag. Tonight’s audience, composed mostly of the +35 crowd, were not at all le fratbag. #relieved

FPCT is presenting The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged!) written by comedy trio Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield. This show has been around a while, and while it is contemporary, the script seems to have been updated a few times to include present-day cultural references (I first read it in the late 90s; back-off bitches, hints to my age will be actively denied; TBO, Styx and I all are all timeless, ageless beauties. #BFF [Yup.-TBO]). These hard-working folks are here to perform all of  the Bard’s amazing works, in one single evening. True to form this show is ½ renaissance festival, ½ college improv troupe, and 100% all kinds of stupid-funny. This is a three actor show (!!) and they start off with Romeo and Juliet, each performer playing half a dozen roles, nailing all the most important famous lines, and cutting all the chaff in between. It’s fast-paced (12 minutes?), but workable. There’s a crazy black wig, a crown, and a few wooden swords; not much else in the prop department. There’s not a lot of comedy in this version of R&J and we begin to wonder if they’re actually going to go straight through all 40 some-odd “works.” WTF? We’d be here for…like…7 hours! Luckily, the historical dramas are reduced to a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants football game, complete with commentary. The “lesser” plays are blatantly ignored (Who likes Coriolanus anyway!!? I mean, it’s got the word “anus” in it–ffpphhahahaha!). So basically, this play is a review, in the most comic, grotesque, and absurd way possible, of all of Shakespeare’s most popular works. Executed by only three people. We even get Hamlet.  Backwards.

And it’s a bang-out hoot!

The acting on FPCT’s stage is amaze-balls. The trifecta of Bart Debicki, Holly Gibbs, and Anne Shoemaker are a truly talented trio. Not one line falter, not a single flub, and did I mention they did Hamlet BACKWARDS??!!  Each actor goes by their given name on stage, but they do create a sort of persona for consistency. I adored Shoemaker as the uppity, hoity-toity Shakespearean scholar. She might be a wee lady in stature, but she’s got the chutzpa and stage presence of a broadway diva. Next to her, towering over the stage, was Debicki. He’s enormous, and ever so adorable! He’s got a lovely singing voice, can play guitar and the ukulele and kicked ass with his college-bro like character (he gets all the penis reference lines- straight from the Renfest). Finally, the flighty, off-kilter granola-woman played by Holly Gibbs was my absolute favorite. Gibbs was a hoot and really knew how to work the audience. All three had impeccable comic timing, wonderful stage presence, and an energy level to kill for. Director Howard Berkowitz put together a great team to play out this comedy of errors, so to speak, so to speak. Set, lighting and costumes, each with their own design challenges (and concepts) were just okay. Nothing terribly bad to mention, nor nothing terribly good.

The Bottom Line:  Ohmygawdyouguysthishowwassofunny! While the design team all seemed like they might have been working on a different show, the superb on-stage energy and balls-to-the-wall pacing of this team makes it easy to really focus on what matters: three young, hot, actors who are kicking ass and taking names.  I’ll just leave this here:  Dear Holly, let’s have a trex party!

Running at Fells Point Corner Theatre until April 12th.

SECOND OPINION?

‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged!)’ at Fells Point Corner Theatre

Email Achilles Feels at achillesfeels@gmail.com

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