THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) (Sansanus Productions). At Papermill Theatre (67 Pottery). To April 6. 416-371-1438. Rating: NNN
The very talented and energetic actors Steven Burley, Christopher Darroch and Peter Nicol know their Shakespeare backwards and forwards.
That’s just one of many gimmicks in The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a parody that crams the playwright’s oeuvre into a 90-minute romp (just a mention or reference to a play counts).
Now, I’m no purist, and I believe that their intentionally puerile mispronunciations and repeated references to bodily functions fall within the spirit of the Bard’s bawdy texts.
The problem is that although the cast commit fully to the production’s lunacy, the script’s pop-culture references expired long ago. When writers Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield concocted it in 1987, Michael Jackson, Darth Vader and a rap version of Othello sure felt a lot fresher.
Far from its Fringe Fest roots, the production has become a homogenized American import – just insert your own local references into the script. (And purchase your “I Love My Willy” T-shirt in the lobby – no joke!)
Director and scenic designer D. Jeremy Smith stages it at an Autobahn pace and gets extra humour mileage out of moving everyone around a tiny recreation of an Elizabethan-era theatre placed centre stage. Costume designer Marnie King has visual fun with Converse high tops and dressing Darroch in drag.