Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)
6th Street Playhouse
Review by Jeanie K. Smith | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's reviews of When Pigs Fly, Jesus Christ Superstar, Marjorie Prime, and What the Constitution Means to Me and Jeanie's review of The Tin Woman


Nick Mandracchia, Zac Schuman,
and Erik Weiss

Photo by Eric Chazankin
Called "an irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard's plays," The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) aims to condense all of Shakespeare's canon, including some sonnets, into a brief theatrical experience, having a bit of hilarity along the way. Three actors provide all the characters and synopses and a few lines of actual Shakespearean dialogue, mixed with audience interaction and a lot of bawdiness. Written by three members of the original Reduced Shakespeare Company, Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, the play has seen successful runs all over the U.S. and the U.K. and in countless regional and collegiate theaters. 6th Street Playhouse tackles it in a production that really should be funnier, given the talented cast and director Jared Sakren's credentials.

Actors Nick Mandracchia, Zac Schuman and Erik Weiss give tremendous energy and zeal to their performances, summoning a tongue-in-cheek delivery for this wacky script. The text encourages the performers to ad-lib and add contemporary cultural references, as well as relate directly to the audience, and it's clear they've liberally "dosed" the script with local color and added remarks. These are fun when they aren't too snide.

However, there's far too much shouting, in this very small theatre, which tends to erode expression and blast the audience into numbness. Some shouting is called for in the script, but that doesn't mean the entire work is to be delivered at top volume. The slapstick is often over-exaggerated and, combined with shouting, results in a failure to land the jokes and more subtle comic timing. Sight-gags and physical comedy are critical to the piece, of course, but precision and design would enhance understanding and get the desired laughs. The breakneck speed called for by the script needs care when speaking Shakespeare (or pseudo-Shakespeare), or all comprehension is forfeited.

This isn't to say that nothing is funny in this production—some of it is enjoyable, and the three performers are likable. It's just that too much comic opportunity is lost.

There's an attractive backdrop by set designer Conor Woods, and some clever lighting by April George. Props masters Ben Harper and Erik Weiss and wig designer Roxie Johnson have a field day with this one.

Unfortunately, it's not as wildly funny as one hoped.

The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), through June 3, 2018, in the Studio Theatre, 6th Street Playhouse, 52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa CA. Tickets $22.00-$35.00 can be purchased online at www.6thstreetplayhouse.com or by phone at 707-523-4185 ext. 1


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