The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)



The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Chicago Sable Ensemble, at the New Harrison Street Galleries Studio Theatre. At last, a stage production of Shakespeare for people whose attention spans are more suited to Cliffs Notes. Three actors--Colby Sellers, Anthony Tournis, and Nicholas Viane, looking like the Beastie Boys of the Bard--take a swing at this parody, made famous by the Reduced Shakespeare Company in the 80s and 90s. Within two hours, the trio has cut to the chase of Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, "the Scottish play" (whose name one never speaks aloud in a theater), all 154 sonnets, and Hamlet (played at three speeds)--the whole collection, in fact, except Coriolanus. It has "anus" in it. They didn't want to do the butt play.

The surprisingly fluid script blends the highest and lowest of humor: playwrights Jess Borgeson, Adam Long, and Daniel Singer are Californians yet conjure up images of Python. Fortunately their reformulations, including barf jokes and other gags, suit this scrappy Gen-Y storefront production. One word of warning, however: though usually a "storefront theater" has been converted into a performance space with appropriate lights, seating, accessible bathrooms, etcetera, this space is still an actual storefront, with light settings of "on" and "off," folding chairs, and low-tech accoutrements. The no-frills setting does contribute to the Wayne's World-style production, but the space is not comfy.

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