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Shakespeare, Abridged: Get Thee to Gaithersburg

By • Jun 17th, 2006 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, performed by Montgomery Playhouse [MP3 4:23 1.3MB].

Laura: Last night we saw The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, performed by Montgomery Playhouse at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Mike: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged is the performing of every single history, comedy, and tragedy that Shakespeare wrote in two hours.

Laura: I will admit, I’m not a big fan of the works of Shakespeare, abridged or otherwise. But last night’s show was so funny. I laughed so hard and I had an enjoyable time. The three actors worked well together, bouncing off of each other and playing off of each other. They had a good audience to work with also. It was a really funny show last night.

Mike: It was a really funny show. And you didn’t have to know Shakespeare to understand the jokes. It’s slapstick for a lot of it. Everybody knows the basics of Romeo and Juliet. And the basics of Hamlet and the basics of Macbeth and the other scenes they alluded to. So you’ll have a good time. It also made some of the plays a lot more accessible. So the next time I do see a production of one of the real shows, I’ll probably understand it just a touch more.

Laura: There were three actors in the performance. John, played by John Dickson. Kevin, played by Kevin Dykstra, and Gary, played by Gary Sullivan. The three of them may have actually had a hard role because they had to play themselves playing various characters of William Shakespeare. I think all three of them did an excellent job.

Mike: The show opened with the standard instructions to turn off your cell phones, and your pagers and things like that. It then went right into the show with some non-standard instruction about what to do in case of an emergency in the theater. That warmed the audience up. It was pretty effective because everybody knew it was going to be a comedy, but they didn’t quite know what to expect. They started out with a high degree of the unexpected, which made it instantly obvious that’s it’s ok to laugh. We expect you to laugh. And by giving that permission to the audience, they really got the audience involved. The first act they did almost every single work of William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet was featured with a retelling of the tragic love story. They did a really good job. There was a little bit of audience participation with that. John running out into the audience for a few parts of the scene. The first act was really funny. They got through almost every single piece. At the end of the act they decided to double check to make sure they were done. They then realized that they had forgotten Hamlet.

Laura: Act two, the three of them put on Hamlet. And again used an audience participation method that I thought was really creative. They had a man and a woman up on stage and then they divided the rest of the audience into groups and had each group do things. What I liked about it was it was not long and drawn out and lengthy. They put it all together, did some runthroughs and then it was kind of like action and they did what they had to do. The audience, I think really enjoyed it and then they went on with the play.

Mike: And, yes, Hamlet is as funny as you remember it from the reading of Hamlet when you were in school. No, I’m kidding. It was a lot funnier. That was the whole purpose of this and they did do the whole Hamlet script in the second act. Then at the end of performing Hamlet they did it again. They did it much quicker. And then that wasn’t enough for them so they decided to do it again even faster. And because you’ve just seen it, it made sense still.

Laura: Be aware there is some adult language in the performance, but it was brief.

Mike: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, is playing at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn through tomorrow afternoon. The show is tonight at eight PM and then Sunday at three PM. The show tonight was nearly sold out so call ahead to get tickets, but I think you’ll enjoy yourself. It’s a good two hours that will be well spent.

Laura: And now, on with the show.

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3 Responses »

  1. Not a fan of Shakespeare? How is it possible that a theatre reviewer is not a fan of Shakespeare?

  2. I enjoy Shakespeare. It usually takes me a few scenes to become accustomed to the language style. Shakespeare is hard to perform well. We have reviewed shows that were done well and shows that were not done as well. The shows that were not performed as well were harder to get through and review. -Laura

  3. In what way is it more difficult to perform well?