This weekend, KCST put on their very first show of the Fall, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, directed by Rachel Chung. Arts guru Madysen Luebke was in the crowd and luckily, this time, she didn’t need sneakers…or a jacket…or a flashlight.
If you came to see KCST’s production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged expecting an intellectual evening of learning and knowledge, you would be shocked to say the least. But you would soon realize that this show is even better than you could have ever expected a boring Shakespearean play to be.
The show began rather abruptly with a charming introductory monologue featuring Jenna Lomeli as a PRE-eminent Shakespeare historian. Lomeli set the stage quite well for the intentions of the show: to perform all 37 Shakespearean plays in under 90 minutes. Unlike the other actors who broke character repeatedly for comedic effect, Lomeli’s character carried through the entire performance. The historian was often in the background of scenes, but stood out nevertheless for her reactions towards the perversions of Shakespeare’s plays on the stage in front of her.
Stephen Adamow also showed off his scholarly talents with a quick biography of Shakespeare before the rendition of Romeo and Juliet began. While Adamow humorously confused Shakespeare and Hitler’s biographies, his delivery felt forced compared to the ease of the show as a whole. Jo Chiang’s portrayal of Romeo also fell short to Noel Gutierrez-Morfin’s natural transformation into Juliet.
The actors all seemed to hit their stride as the show progressed, seamlessly transitioning between their many characters. Some of the jokes were simply overdone: Gutierrez-Morfin’s penchant for fake vomiting was not funny and watching interpretive dance is never as entertaining as people think it will be. But some of the moments were comedy gold. Joey Santia and Jenna Lomeli put on priceless Scottish accents during MacBeth, and Gutierrez-Morfin nailed reverse drowning as Ophelia. On top of it all, the cast handled the audience participation quite well. By the time people were called onto the stage or asked to speak, we felt like we knew the cast. We had seen them not only in character, but also as themselves.
Overall, the show was a very strong piece of comedy with a few forced moments. It was full of chaotic running around, overdramatic monologues, and very strange wigs, but somehow it worked. It’s not a Shakespearean masterpiece by any means, but both the audience and the cast seemed to really enjoy the show.
Shakespeare feeling sassy via Shutterstock