Laugh in iambic pentameter at this comic take on the Bard

All the betrayal of the tragedies! All the passion of the sonnets! Plus rubber chickens! It may feel like the winter of our collective discontent, but Stagecrafters’ latest offering will make Metro Detroit audiences laugh like it’s glorious summer. Stagecrafters’ hilarious parody The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), presented on the 2nd Stage of the Baldwin Theatre, runs February 19th through 28th.

Shakespeare is the first of the “Abridged” plays by the Reduced Shakespeare Company (the troupe has also taken on the Bible, American History, and sports). The brainchild of Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, this fast-paced irreverent romp through all of Shakespeare’s 37 plays, plus his sonnets, was London’s longest-running comedy and has been called “the funniest show you are likely to see in your entire lifetime” by the Montreal Gazette. Three actors employ frantic costume changes, slapstick, rap music, pop culture references, audience interaction, improvisation, and fake vomiting resulting in pandemonium that will delight both devotees of the Bard and Shakespeare novices alike. One critic put it like this: “If you like Shakespeare, you’ll like this play. If you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love this play!”

Director Debbi Dworkin (of Berkley) knew she would one day direct Shakespeare when she saw Wayne State’s production of the play ten years ago. “The show is an incredibly well put-together piece of theatre. The humor is smart, the script is both fun and a challenge to produce, and the inspiration is Shakespeare – an excellent opportunity all the way around!” Armed with strong material, she merely needed the proper venue and performers. Stagecrafters’ intimate 2nd Stage provided her with the perfect space for a show so dependent on audience interaction. Proved to be the right funny men for the job, her cast includes Tom Arwady (Harrison Twp), Jason Dilly (Franklin), and Scott MacDonald (Berkley).”The cast is truly gifted,” Dworkin said. “They are hilarious as individuals, and even more so as a team.”

Actor Scott MacDonald, known to 2nd Stage audiences for his more dramatic turns in A View from the Bridge and Angels in America Parts I and II, finds Shakespeare’s frenetic brand of comedy a satisfying challenge: “The style of this show is rooted in an art form that is ancient. It was born at a time when the performers did not have the luxury of relying on technology, special effects, or anything else. It relied on the sheer exertion of the performer to capture the imagination of the people on the street, or in the back of the theatre. The work and performance of this particular show commands an energy at a sustained level that I don’t often experience in other shows. It’s great and I love every minute of it, but it is hard work!”

If the chance to laugh is not enough to entice audience members, MacDonald even offers an environmental plea. “I can guarantee there is more raw entertainment per minute in this show than any other out there. Think of it as an efficiency thing! Go green! See our more efficient show! The COMPLETE works! Abridged!”

An interactive talkback will take place after the performance on Saturday, February 20th. Trained improvisers from Go Comedy! in Ferndale will share some “inside trade secrets,” and will engage the audience in a few improv technique games.

Tickets for all shows are $12. Call 248.541.6430 for tickets. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. All seats are reserved. Audience Advisory: Adult content and language, politically incorrect references and strobe lighting. Show dates and times follow:

Friday, Feb. 19 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 20 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 21 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 25 8:00 p.m. *
Friday, Feb. 26 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 27 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 28 2:00 p.m.

*Half Price Student Night. Students need to present a valid college ID.