I dropped in on The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) party last night along with fellow blogger, college professor, and ninja Jenn Zuko (of Daily Cross-Swords).
I know that I can always count on this show for a lot of laughs -- even when performed (as it often is) by the three "funniest" guys in a local community theatre.
I knew that the Colorado Shakespeare Festival would easily surpass that expectation having already seen Geoff Kent, Matt Mueller, and Stephen Weitz in other CSF shows this summer. Jenn said that she wanted to write "dueling blogs" on the show, so I went into the theatre with my blog topic already in mind:
How The Compleat Works is a great way to introduce the uninitiated or fearful to the work of Shakespeare. Not bad, right?
It was fitting, too, because, while the concept of 3 guys attempting to perform 37 plays in one evening is a grand spoof, we are also treated to a great affection for the words and characters. Amid the raucous laughter, the "what a piece of work is man" monologue sneaks up on us and stuns. Kinda like a ninja, right Jenn?
And these guys do it so well. There is a trick to a show like this, and that is to make it seem unrehearsed and spontaneous, and it's not easy. The best I've ever seen at it is a man by the name of Bob Moore, but Kent, Mueller, and Weitz are pretty darn good at it, too.
With audience participation a big part of this production, there is no shortage of genuine spontaneity, either.
However, my original blog plan de-railed as I enjoyed the show in the context of the rest of the summer offerings at CSF.
I kept thinking, if you think Geoff Kent is charming here, you should really see him as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (which closes August 7th, so hurry!). The man's charisma really should receive separate billing. As Matt Mueller juggles multiple roles in the trio's Hamlet parody, I found myself recalling how adroitly he handled the bizarre duality of Proteus in CSF's cleverly-staged production of the complicated Two Gentlemen of Verona (ends August 9th, folks!). On the subject of Hamlet, Stephen Weitz's interpretation of the Danish Prince is one of the better I've seen (if not the best) and Philip Sneed's brilliant production (also ends August 9th) is fodder for much of the humor in Compleat's spoof.
So, essentially, I found a flaw in my original concept. You see, the best production for the uninitiated or fearful of Shakespeare is. . . Shakespeare. Shakespeare done well to be precise, and I saw a lot of Shakespeare done well this summer at the CSF.
So, yes, go see The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). It's funny as hell. You'll laugh your butt off, but just don't let that be your only exposure to Shakespeare this summer, especially when there are at least three great productions worth seeing as well.
Photo by Casey A. Cass for CU Communications.