All too often many Americans are exposed to William Shakespeare's works in high school with a reading of "Hamlet" or "Romeo and Juliet." Too bad, because those teen years may be a bit early to truly thrill to the greatest English- language playwright,
You can catch "Richard III" (gloomy and brooding) or "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (airy and frothy) at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. But if you want it all " something from all of his plays " "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" is a perfect night out.
This is a three-man show during which lines from all of Shakespeare's plays are recited in a context of humor and wit. You'll find something from your favorite Shakespeare play, perhaps "O brave New World" from "The Tempest." And you'll hear a lot of lines that have crept into everyday speech as well " "The play's the thing" from "Hamlet."
The three stars are Rich Garrett (also in "Smokey Joe's Cafe," which occupies the outdoor stage the rest of the time), Jim Godwin and Jason Macy, all well-known local actors. The show is directed by Karen Chandler (also in "Smokey Joe's"), with Andie Anderson as stage manager (again in "Smokey"). This is summer stock, right?
Here's what Chandler has to say about the digest play:
"It's a three-man undertaking of all of the Bard's works in two hours or less. I've directed this show before and the reason it's a keeper is the fact that it incorporates so much improvisation that is so much with us now.
"I could direct this show every five years and it would be completely different, and it's just plain fun no matter what."
Garrett opens things up with a brief explanation of what is going to happen. Then Godwin gets the story rolling with a quick survey of how much the audience knows about Shakespeare. And then it's on to "Romeo and Juliet" where Macy and Garrett give a quick runover of the Caputets meeting the Montagues.
From there the action moves along through the 35 Shakespeare works amid a flurry of fast costume changes and action. Happily, the actors speak their lines clearly so you don't have to read up on Shakespeare to get the gags.
One of the intriguing aspects of this capsule version of The Bard is that some of the lines arouse curiosity, perhaps sending an audience member on into Shakespeare's works. And that's a theater bonus if there ever was one.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)"
WHERE: The Brewery Arts Center Outdoor Stage, 511 W. King St., parking lot
WHO: The Brewery Arts Center Summer Theater Company
WHEN: Sunday July 27, Sunday Aug. 3 and Sunday Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $12 general admission, $10 for seniors and students
- Contact Sam Bauman at Sbauman@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1236.