Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 3, 2017

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, abridged (revised)

Playhouse on Park, West Hartford CT
through July 30, 2017
by Barbara Stroup

‘Tis noble indeed, to undertake this title but in an age of speed reading, speed listening, and speed watching, the Bard is very much “on speed” in Playhouse on Park’s current production.

The play opens with an address to the audience because the actors are late and the props missing. So the shenanigan tone is set from the start by three superb comic actors who can also lapse into iambic pentameter when needed (but rarely so). This production is full of laughs – literary and visual -with only a few references to the familiar serious speeches.

Dispensing with authenticity, all 42 titles (and sonnets) listed in the program get at least a cursory representation in the course of the two-hour show. The three actors (two male and one female) trade roles, wigs, and titles while performing physical feats faster than a gymnastic tumbling troop. There were so many laughs that those lines which only reached a part of the theatre were not even missed. Most memorable moment of many was the use of a red scarf after a throat “slitting.” The audience even gets involved at times, and the play builds to a finish with “Hamlet”. Even more laughs and surprises occur after the (phony) curtain.

Hanna Cheek, Rich Hollman and Sean Harris need not use their gym memberships during the one month run – one hopes they are treated to a massage after each performance. They are well-matched in timing, vocal presence and their ensemble abilities are superb. Because of the pace, the actors must be receiving some finely-tuned backstage support as well. This evening of lighthearted, irreverent humor provides a great theatrical experience.