The King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe’s production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” can be best described as SparkNotes on crack.
The attempt to run through Shakespeare’s entire anthology of 37 plays in only 90 minutes, and its performance in the Lerner Black Box over the weekend was fast-paced, full of energy, and hilarious.
Shakespeare’s famous line “One man in his time plays many parts” definitely applies to this show.
Directed by Rachel Chung, SEAS ’15, the show starred six actors—Stephan Adamów, CC ’15, Jo Chiang, BC ’ 15, Jenna Lomeli, CC ’15, Noel Gutierrez-Morfin, CC ’15, Meridith Pollie, SEAS ’17, and Joey Santia, CC ’17—who superbly assumed a myriad of roles.
Gutierrez-Morfin—typically donning a wig to portray female love interests—was an irreplaceable ingénue. Santia’s Hamlet was also entertainingly exaggerated.
While the production sometimes used Shakespeare’s words, each play was condensed to its basic elements. “Hamlet” becomes a death match, while “Macbeth” is abbreviated into a Scottish stereotype—complete with entirely unintelligible Scottish accents and a golf club sword fight.
All of the histories morph into a football game, where different kings tackle each other for possession of the crown.
Somehow, Shakespeare’s genius isn’t compromised, even though “Titus Andronicus” becomes a Paula Deen-esque cooking show and “Othello” becomes a rap song.
Among the hilarity, one of the play’s most genuine moments was Adamów’s rendition of Hamlet’s “What a piece of work is man” monologue. Though he began reciting the words conversationally, Hamlet’s frustration took root inside of him by the end as he spoke from a place of truth and openness.
The sheer amount of physical movement in the show was also impressive. The actors were all over the place, but Pollie was especially physically expressive. Her constantly flailing body added a level of absurdity and energy to whatever character she was inhabiting, be it the distressed nurse telling Juliet that Romeo had murdered Tybalt, or the terrified Horatio coming to tell Hamlet that he had just seen his father’s ghost.
The actors constantly broke the fourth wall, often addressing the audience or each other as themselves. They weren’t actors so much as they were six college students who happened to be performing an eccentric, informal, abridged version of Shakespeare’s canon.
By the end of the show, an intimate relationship had formed in the Black Box, as unscripted conversations engaged the audience members, making them part of the ensemble.
Correction: In print, this article misidentified the author. Spectator regrets the error.