Comedy is one of the purest art forms because it can be so unpredictable. Marry comedy with classic Shakespeare and you have the recipe for a very funny and entertaining show; and that is exactly what you get in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) presented by the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Shakespeare is credited with 37 plays, some very well known, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, and of course Hamlet, but others are obscure, Troilus and Cressida. This show covers them one and all in about two hours! No need to sit through all three parts of Henry VI or endure the over 4,000 lines of Hamlet. From the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet, to the witches of Macbeth, to Hamlet’s soliloquy, all of the Shakespearian highlights are covered, but probably not quite the way you remember them.
The show starts out innocently enough, as we are introduced to the tome of Shakespeare’s works by the comical Andrew Pond, who sets us up for this rollercoaster ride of parody and satire. The first play introduced is Romeo and Juliet and it is here we meet the rest of this capable cast; Adam Kander and Michael Woods. This trio of very funny men (and founding members of the 2 year old Eclectic Full Contact Theatre) seamlessly work together and engage the audience with spirited satire, slapstick, and improvisation as they romp through the Bard’s works. They use a devious cooking show for Titus Andronicus, a football game to highlight Shakespeare’s many historical plays, rap for Othello, and of course kilts and golf clubs for Macbeth. Hamlet is told by hilarious sock puppets! The audience also becomes part of the act as several members are recruited to participate on stage. They keep the adlibbing current with references to recent events and they are quick to pick up on audience cues. The show requires physical strength, mental agility, and great timing; these three deliver. Yes, there are some silly moments, but that’s the idea, you really never stop laughing. It is hard work to perform 37 plays and this trio never slows down, this is a high energy show.
The set, costumes, and lighting strike just the right balance and allow the actors to utilize their full range of skill as they weave the stories of Shakespeare under the fine direction of David Belew, who employs remote video cameras in the audience and a flat panel monitor above the stage to achieve some neat special effects. Seeing “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” is a delightful way to spend two hours and you will leave the theatre smiling, still laughing, and feeling very happy.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) runs June 27, 2013 through August 10, 2013.
Show times are: Thursday & Friday at 8:00 PM, Saturday at 7:00 PM, and Sunday at 3:00 PM. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at www.MetropolisArts.com or by stopping by or calling the Box Office at 847-577-2121. Metropolis is located in the heart of Chicago’s northwest suburbs in downtown Arlington Heights at 111 West Campbell Street. Street parking is available and free parking is also available in the public garage behind the theater. Lots of great dining experiences as well
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