Monday, April 15, 2024

The Village Players Present “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged”

The Village Players are at it again, with their latest comedic venture, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, the ultimate evening of roughly 400 years of fun, by the great pinnacle of madcap vernacular. 

Initially written back in the 1980s by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, the play was performed at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Novato, California in a highly condensed form of Shakespeare’s many works. 

The actors typically work under their own names, as they comically speed through every famous piece written by the Bard. The first version performed, around a half-hour long, was followed by a later official and expanded version, which went on to parody every play that Shakespeare wrote. That play successfully navigated the 9-year run in London, gaining popularity worldwide as a staple theater production. 

“To condense, or not to condense?”

To describe the show itself is to risk spoiling much of its hilarious content. Much of it is tongue-in-cheek dialogue which can only be performed by someone who might understand Shakespeare, or even a little too much. The gags are as varied as they are creative. Everything from cooking shows and rap songs to Adolf Hitler and tossing the British crown around like a football somehow makes its way into this rogue gallery of humor. 

The crux of the show centers around three guys discussing the general underappreciated nature of Shakespeare. That is the pretext to a breakneck rush, through each and every work with a different gag or comedic device attached to each reference. 

The show ends with a walk through of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Hamlet. The stated goal of this final performance is to beat the world record for the fastest retelling of the infamous show. The current record stands at around 43 seconds, according to Liberty University. Considering Hamlet is one of the longest plays ever written, with an unabridged version potentially lasting over four hours, that’s quite a feat. 

Shakespeare meets Toledo

Ryan Albrecht, director of the show, describes it as a comedy on multiple levels, depending on the audience’s knowledge about Shakespeare’s many writings. 

“You may actually find it funnier the less you know about Shakespeare,” Albrecht said. “Similarly, the more familiar you are, the more it’ll seem like an in-joke as you recognize familiar funny references.” 

Albrecht is actually quite familiar with the show as he previously performed in it as a character. Now, on the production team, Albrecht admits, “I was excited for the opportunity to direct the show.” 


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Many of Shakespeare’s works could be deemed to be quite silly when given more than a cursory glance; even Romeo and Juliet, which is full of innuendo and dirty humor,  is exactly what The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged banks on for its gold.  “Much of the humor comes from the fast-paced delivery of the jokes,” Albrecht admits, “This is why people who aren’t familiar with Shakespeare’s works will still find the show amusing.” 

Friday, April 5 through Sunday, April 14. Ticket prices start at $20. For specific showtimes and purchasing, visit thevillageplayers.org.

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