The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged] – Interboro High School in Prospect Park, PA.
December 8, 2015
Review submitted by Will Patterson of The Episcopal Academy
“Cut the crap Hamlet!” screams the audience at the behest of the actors clad in brightly colored tights, “my biological clock is ticking!” Tackling thirty-seven Shakespearean plays in ninety-seven (give or take) minutes, Interboro High School’s production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged] updated and “cut the crap” from all the bard’s famous works while maintaining the spirit of their irreverent humor.
The play, written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, was first performed in 1987 with three actors. In it, the audience is taken on a comedic journey through Shakespeare’s plays, from Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet. Each performance of the show allows for a unique spin, with casts often drawing on local events and pop culture in their jokes.
A small cast of sixteen actors and actresses not only tackled the plethora of Shakespearean characters, but also played themselves, a herculean feat. They spoke to each other with their real names, and developed their own personas on stage.
Though each person in this talented cast brought their own unique humor and character to the play, there were a few standouts. Natalie Mancuso, who put a new twist on some of the female characters of Shakespeare, was notable for her high energy comedic performance. Her strong speaking voice and impeccable comedic timing commanded the audience’s attention. Another standout was Jeff Finley, who garnered uproarious laughter with his soft-spoken, lowbrow humor. Kevin Reeder shattered the fourth wall to great comic effect when he left the stage to sit on an audience member and eventually flee the show. Jack Crozier–abandoned by his castmates when they went to get Kevin–lit up the stage with his pre-intermission monologue, interacting with audience members and riffing off responses.
The cast kept their energy high and building throughout the entire show, never once losing the audience’s attention. From a cooking show of Titus Andronicus, to a group performance of an Othello rap, to Hamlet performed both sped up and backwards, each new play was performed in a humorous and lively way. Each cast member possessed strong comedic instincts, knowing how and when to break the fourth wall and keep the audience engaged.
In a play that was the polar opposite of subtle, the technical aspects of the show were very well done. Their costumes effectively allowed them to step into and out of character without drawing attention away from them. The props and set served to assist the actors, but did not go so far as to distract from their performance.
A strong chemistry between cast members, made jokes run smoothly and kept the audience both on their toes and in hysterical laughter the whole time. From Shakespeare fanatics to Shakespeare disparagers, this fantastic performance has laughs for everyone!
Review submitted by Sarah Barr of The Episcopal Academy
There was no “maybe…maybe not” about it – the ego, superego, and id of the audience was in agreement – Interboro High Schools production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) shined.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) undertakes the lofty goal of preforming all thirty-seven of William Shakespeare’s plays in ninety-seven minutes, and the talented cast and crew of Interboro admirably undertook the challenge. Asa Campbell and Morgan Smith started the show off with the colorful humor that would come to be expected throughout the show, and were joined quickly by the comedic talents of Sonia Relyea – a preeminent Shakespearian scholar – Kevin Reeder, and the rest of the cast as the walk through the realm of Shakespeare began.
The first play, Romeo and Juliet, began with a fast-paced scooter entrance by Jeff Finley, and the show only speed up as the actors became more attuned to their characters and found their energy. The banter between Jeff Finley and his Juliet, Alexis Tuohey, served to truly make the cast seem like a single unit. Titus Andronicus’s dark humor was excellently executed – literally – by the skills of Daniel Previti and Natalie Mancuso, who managed to speak as if she actually had no tongue. The tragic story of Othello was transformed into a catchy beat with a multitude of clever one-liners and an excellent display of hitting the whip by Wyatt McDevitt, Jack Crozier, and Demi Davis.
Along with getting to display their prowess through Shakespeare’s works, the play lended itself to opportunities for the actors’ personalities and dynamic interactions with each other to truly come to light. Banter between Kevin Reeder, Jack Crozier, and Jeff Finley, mingled with the audience participation that they initiated made the experience much more interesting for the audience as a whole.
The final play of the production was, of course, Hamlet, which was done impressively not once, not twice, but three times, and then completed backwards as well. The ever famous “To be or not to be” speech was given an admirable effort by Molly Evans, and the division of Ophelia into “layers” by Natalie Mancuso caused exceptional hilarity to ensue.
Technically, the show was simple. There was essentially no set, and every actor wore the same costume with different colored tights to set them apart. As a result, there was no real interaction with anything besides each other, allowing for more focus on the actual lines. While there were instances where actors spoke too quickly or didn’t enunciate enough, the majority of lines were given the delivery they deserved.
All in all, Interboro’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) was not a show to be missed.