THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, directed by Joel Greenberg, with Kirk Dunn, Joel Harris and Stephen Guy-McGrath. Young People's Theatre (165 Front East). Runs to March 18, Saturday 2 and 7 pm, Sunday 3 pm, various times March 13-16. $18-$28, pwyc February 17 and March 10 at 7 pm. 416-862-2222. Rating: NN
ALIEN CREATURE: A VISITATION BY GWENDOLYN Macewen written and performed by Linda Griffiths, directed by Simon Heath. Presented by Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). Runs to February 25, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $19-$28, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNNat the top of alien creature, Linda Griffiths emerges from a cloud of dry ice, looking like a Greek priestess. She then embarks on an impressionistic take on poet Gwendolyn MacEwen that's part magic show, part confessional and all theatrical tour de force.Set in MacEwen's basement apartment, the show examines her history and obsessions -- which included Wonder Woman and actor Jack Palance -- as the poet bravely tries to avoid drinking. It's powerful stuff, especially the scenes dealing with art and poverty.
Although there are still a few sections that meander, the play is tighter than its earlier version, and it's travelled well from the more intimate Back Space to the Main Stage. Jan Komarek's design and lighting evoke the maximum magic from the minimal furnishings of MacEwen's life.
It's hard to imagine the show without Griffiths, who's alternately apologetic, proud, sensual and exhilarating. Her charisma and concentration carry us over the slippery prose and poignant moments to create real poetry in motion.
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, directed by Joel Greenberg, with Kirk Dunn, Joel Harris and Stephen Guy-McGrath. Young People's Theatre (165 Front East). Runs to March 18, Saturday 2 and 7 pm, Sunday 3 pm, various times March 13-16. $18-$28, pwyc February 17 and March 10 at 7 pm. 416-862-2222. Rating: NN cover all 37 of shakespeare's plays in less than two hours? By the Bard's balls, only if your actors have the energy of a whole Olympic team. Happily, the trio in YPT's production -- Kirk Dunn, Joel Harris and Stephen Guy-McGrath -- fit the (play)bill, but the show has its problems.In its second Toronto go-round, The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a sometimes clever, sometimes silly run through Willie's works, is a fun show for high-schoolers who find the Bard boring.
Lots of Three Stooges-style slapstick, bawdy and body references and nods to Britney Spears, the WWF and Survivor prompt at least a smirk from most.
But the attention of these teens' younger siblings and parents will likely wander. The play goes on and on, with diminishing returns.
Segments that work -- including the bloody Titus Andronicus as a cooking show -- are smart sketches, successful in part because of their brevity.
The several versions of Hamlet that make up the production's second half (one's a 60-second, backward rendition) prove to be overkill.
The costume-shifting cast gives its all under Joel Greenberg's direction, with Dunn as the academic type, playful Harris as most of the female characters and Guy-McGrath as the mediator of the group. It's too bad that even their irrepressible spirits can't save viewers from the overbearing style.