3 minstrels, 37 plays, 90 minutes. Yes please!
The writers, Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, former founding members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, first performed the play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987, and later at the Criterion Theatre London, where it ran for nine years.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is the first production of Brisbane Arts Theatre's 2015 season. This script is suited to every sense of humour: parodies to puppets, farces to fantasy, manic to musical.
Director Rebecca Elise Lamb, along with countless millions of others, is a huge fan of one of history's most important playwrights — and was fortunate enough to study Shaekspeare at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, which included a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon to participate in workshops with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
This compelling combination of script and director will surely entice aficionados of The Bard to sample more from the rich goblet that is his body of work.
This reviewer has no such pedigree, however — the very thought of Shakespeare instilling spectres of yawn-inducing wherforartthous and whyforsakens. Perhaps one too many bad experiences as a child? But suspicions that the script of 'Complete Works…' coupled with the pedigree of Brisbane's foremost amateur theatre would carry the day proved well-founded.
Opening night's ensemble of Rita Artmann, Rob Griffiths and Nathan Pamenter rocked the boards with an accomplished and engaging rendition. All three brought personality and dynamism and worked very well off each other. Pamenter's many tortured and haggard female characters were a stand-out — but all three must take huge credit for blurring the lines beautifully between ad-libbing and script. It must have been loads of fun bringing this to the stage.
The combination of fast-paced, high-octane comedy with audience participation is a winner. Codpieces, Scottish accents, light sabres, multiple death scenes and farce at every turn, including a behind-the-scenes crew which were anything but, left the audience well entertained for the duration. For those new to 'The Complete Works…', the double finale is almost worth the price of admission alone.
If pushed to find fault, I'd single out the slightly laborious opening of the second act.
Credits must be extended to lighting and props for adding to the richness of The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged) which runs until 14th March at The Brisbane Arts Theatre.
Much, much funnier than a bard in a bottle. Four out of five Yoricks.
PIX: Opening Night Photos.
Season 2015 Preview.