A name that is synonymous to thespian greats or high school English class.
We English-speaking people have heard the name, but how well acquainted are we with the world’s greatest playwright?
This weekend, the City Theatre of Independence offers an introduction to the man by presenting “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare - Abridged.” Three actors. Quick scenes. All of Shakespeare’s 37 works.
“It’s an absolute farce,” says crew member Brett Masterson about “Complete Works.” “This play is a fun and engaging way that introduces the audience to the world of Shakespeare.”
Instead of recalling those endless nights where you had to decipher Shakespeare’s prose in order to write an essay your old teacher assigned you on either "Othello" or "Romeo & Juliet," now can immerse yourself in the entire Shakespeare canon and have fun.
“Some people associated Shakespeare as writing only for the stuffy aristocracy,” said Masterson, “but actually he wrote for the masses of his day.”
From a cooking show featuring the titular Titus to a snarky introduction by two haughty literature professors, the fourth wall is also nowhere to be found as members of the audience are able to participate and will even have an opportunity to act as a character.
“It gives you a different perspective and appreciation for Shakespeare,” says director Patricia McLaughlin.
Despite its light-hearted approach, the show retains a few Shakespearian elements. For instance, the set.
“It’s set strongly at the Globe Theater,” McLaughlin said. “Complicated sets were not part of Shakespeare’s day.”
The all-male cast – Rob Lunak, John McGinnis and Patrick Carr – is actually another Shakespearian feature. Women were forbidden to perform on the stage during the Elizabethan age, which resulted in men performing female roles.
Bits of Shakespeare’s signature iambic pentameter are also highlighted. Although the dialogue is mostly done in modern English, there are a few scenes that include the poetic format for a humorous effect, says Masterson.
“It’s faithful in intent, but not in language,” McLaughlin said.
Above all, this zany rendition of Shakespeare is the reason people should attend.
“This show is irreverent and has a style of its own,” McLaughlin said. She says the reason she chose this production was the challenge of having such a small cast performing parts of many famous plays that call for rapid costume changes and scene transitions.
“Comedy itself is also a challenge,” she continued. “The timing, the physicality and uncertainty of the jokes themselves make it tough.”
In what may appear as the perfect material for comedy improv troupes, Lunak says the production is very tightly scripted.
“It’s so quick in between scene transitions and costume changes there is little time to think of doing improvisation.”
“This show pokes fun at the world of Shakespeare,” said Carr, “and brings it to the 21st century.”
“The Complete Works of Shakespeare - Abridged” performs at the Sermon Center, 201 N. Dodgion St. in Independence. Show dates are January 9, 10, 11, 17 and 18 all starting at 8 p.m. There is also a matinée performance scheduled on January 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 or $11 for patrons age 60 or older. Dinner Theatre tickets are on the first Saturday performance of the production and will be $28 per person. Those with a season pass will pay $16 for dinner before the show. To purchase or reserve tickets, call 816-325-7367.
“The Complete Works of Shakespeare - Abridged”
Directed by Patricia McLaughlin
CAST - Patrick Carr, John McGinnis and Rob Lunak.