Updated: Feb 25, 2020
Incorporating all 37 of William Shakespeare’s plays (in one way or another), this production by the Lane Cove Theatre Company is a silly, and often outrageous parody.
Staged in the Performance Space at St Aidan’s Church, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is a 97 minute, farcical escapade that takes on all 37 plays penned by the Bard – and the sonnets! Including a take on Othello as a rap, Titus Andronicus as a cooking show and all 16 comedies compacted into a skit entitled: Four Weddings and a Transvestite, this show is full to the brim of slapstick absurdities.
The original script, written and performed by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, encourages improvisation and audience interaction which is where the trio of performers (Logan McArthur, Eleanor Petricevic and Luke W. Shepherd) were the strongest. All three approached their roles with enthusiasm, vibrant energy and gave their all to the demands of the content, which is to be commended. However, there was a distinct lack of authenticity and connection from all three performers which created an air of disparity between us and them. Irrespective of the farcical nature of the show, the audience still yearns to be understood, spoken to or touched in some way by the performers and a more ardent focus on this could have been of great benefit.
With its inherent comedy, far-reaching adaptations and the driving force of the plot being primarily the 97 minute time constraint, it is clear that the script is intended to be brought to life in a fast-paced, dynamic manner. In saying that, the danger with a script like this is the potential to descend into the realm of chaos which is where this production tends to lie. Director Jess Davis needed to choose key moments where a change of tone could be implemented as we were desperately craving a contrast to the unrelenting chaotic energy of the production. Her work on set and costume design however, was fantastic. With a mixed bag of many costumes that were both character appropriate and entertaining; and an economical set that was very pleasing simply because it was painted with a number of Shakespearean quotes, the aesthetic of this production proved to be one of its greatest strengths.
At the end of the day, any sort of take on a Shakespearean work is going to be subject to sharp-eyed critiques and be very taste-oriented depending on each individual’s history and relationship with the Bard’s work. In staging this work independently, the Lane Cove Theatre Company has made a sound effort to do this work justice and expose the joys (or sorrows) of Shakespeare to what may very well be a new audience.
Venue The Performance Space @ St Aidan’s (Longueville) 7th to 22nd Feb 2020
Director Jess Davis
Playwright Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield
Cover Photo and Production Shots by Graeme Dobbs
DISCLAIMER: This and all other reviews posted by A Millennial with an Opinion/JTA Official/Jessie Trompp are the honest personal opinions of a theatre-goer and are not reflective in any way of the opinions of others who have seen the production.