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The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)

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THE COMPLEAT WORKS OF WLLM SHKSPR (ABRIDGED), Gentleman Rogue Productions, at the Theatre Building. If good comedy were a matter of jumping around and acting goofy, then Pauly Shore would be a comic genius and every 12-year-old boy on a sugar high would have his own sitcom. But he isn't and they don't. In fact comedy is a harsh, demanding craft: even the simplest gags require taste, timing, discipline, and the willingness to push things to the limit but not beyond.

Too bad no one told director T.J. Mino. Then he and his three-man cast might not have reduced Jess Winfield, Daniel Singer, and Adam Long's inspired comic take on the Bard to two hours of moderately funny to not so funny horseplay. Not even the best bits--Titus Andronicus played as a cooking show, Hamlet shortened to the point of absurdity--escape Mino's leveling vision.

The elements are here for a much better production. Actor Joe Foust has a great comic presence, and all three men are agile, energetic physical comedians--maybe too agile and energetic, since no one showed them how to channel their comic energy. Only in brief flashes--as when Foust, Eli Goodman, and Darin Toonder act out a hilarious rap version of Othello--do we see how funny this show must have been several years ago when the authors, calling themselves the Reduced Shakespeare Company, toured it throughout the English-speaking world. --Jack Helbig

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