Brainerd Community Theatre's summer season presents the zany comedy "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" at 7:30 p.m. July 15-17 and 22-24 in the Dryden Theatre at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.
Originally conceived and written by Daniel Singer, Jess Winfield and Adam Long as members
of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, the play distills more than 100 hours of the plays of William Shakespeare into just over 100 minutes, a news release stated. To accomplish this, there is certain license taken in the presentation of the various plays. The three actors who take on this feat must assume a variety of roles, regardless of their ability to be convincing in those roles.
BCT Director Patrick Spradlin stated the play was chosen for a number of reasons.
"We have some very talented physical comedy actors in this area, so I knew we'd be able to cast it," Spradlin stated. "Because this is such a wild, outrageous play I knew our summer audiences would welcome it. And, it's just plain fun for everyone working on it and seeing it from the audience."
All veterans of the BCT stage, the cast includes Shane Keran, Bri Keran and Nick Kory.
Shane Keran has been seen in such comedic roles as Lancelot in "Spamalot," Randall McMurphy is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and in a host of other shows like "Season's Greetings" and "It Runs in the Family."
Bri Keran has been in shows like "Nunsense," "Steel Magnolias," "Boeing, Boeing" and "The Foreigner." Kory was most recently seen in "A Few Good Men," but has displayed his comic chops in plays like "The Servant of Two Masters," "Dearly Departed" and "Jack the Ripper."
The plot of the play is deceptively simple. The three actors first introduce themselves to the
audience, with one reminding the audience not to record the show, another giving a speech about how unappreciated William Shakespeare is, and the third giving a biography of Shakespeare mixed up with a biography of Adolf Hitler.
From there it's off to the races as they begin with a parody of "Romeo and Juliet." Next, they do
a parody of "Titus Andronicus," portraying it as a cooking show. Following it is "Othello," which
is done through a rap song. The rest of the first act demonstrates most of the other plays. All the
comedies are combined into one convoluted reading-the justification being that they all recycle the same plot devices anyway, a news release stated. All the histories are acted out through a sporting event. Other Shakespearean plays receive a truncated treatment, making for hilarious results. At the end of the act, the characters realize that they forgot to perform "Hamlet," Shakespeare's greatest work.
The entire second act is the performance of "Hamlet." It is notable for holding the world record
for the shortest-ever performance of "Hamlet," clocking in at 43 seconds, as well as the fastest
performance of "Hamlet" backwards, at 42 seconds.
Director Laura Marsolek leads the trio through their comic twists and turns. Marsolek has
appeared in several area theatre productions, including "Spamalot" and "Relatively Speaking."
She directed "The (Almost) Totally True Story of Hansel and Gretel" for BCT, and has
conducted improvisation workshops for the past year. Her training in improvisation served this
production well, as much of the action of the play depends on improvisational skills.
Critical reviews of the play have been universally glowing. "A madcap condensation that
features nonstop laughs. There is no doubt that William Shakespeare himself ... would approve," as stated by Daily Variety.
The creative team, headed by Marsolek, also includes costume designer Dawn Krautbauer,
lighting and sound designer Ben Kent, and set designer/technical director George Marsolek.
Tickets for the play are available from the CLC Theatre Box Office at 218-855-8199 or online at www.clcperformingarts.com.