Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009

Condensed Shakeseare In Bay View

Soulstice Theatre Opens Non-Holiday Show This Weekend

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Most of the rest of this season’s local live Christmas shows are opening this weekend. (John McGivern’s annual show at the Off—Broadway Theatre doesn’t open until mid-month, just about every other local show opens this weekend.) And having reached the home stretch of Christmas openings, I’m looking forward to one of the few shows opening this weekend that has nothing to do with the holidays: Soulstice Theatre’s  production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged.)

Written a couple of decades ago by the California-based Reduced Shakespeare Company, the play does, in fact, cover all of Shakespeare’s work in a comfy little span of time. Whether or not it is successful in generating any laughs in the process (this IS comedy after all . . . ) is largely up to the group of actors doing the show.  The RSC were hugely successful at this—the Complete Works show being a culmination of creativity that started off with the group mucking about in doing comically compressed versions of some of Shakespeare’s greatest works. After The Complete Works, the RSC eventually ended up doing a series of similarly comical plays that compressed lots of work into a very, very short span of time. Having seen In Tandem’s recent production of RSC’s All The Great Books (Abridged,) I’ve been looking forward to seeing a production of the play that inspired it ever since. 

Souslitce Theatre’s production looks interesting, largely because I’m not all that familiar with the cast. I got the press release some time ago and quickly scanned it for names: Jillian Smith, Josh Perkins, Michael Endter, Al Oldham, Kelly Simon and Kurtis Witzlsteiner. Okay, so some of the names look familiar, but the press pic (seen above) looks largely like a group of unfamiliar faces. This puts me in an interesting position: I don’t know what to expect. (I like being surprised. It comes with the territory.)

The trick with an RSC show, from what I’ve been able to gather, is playing the middle ground between traditional theatrical comedy and wildly out of control sketch comedy. If this cast can walk that line with any degree of finesse, this show could end up being a lot of fun. Even if they can’t it’s really impressive to see Soulstice  trying something outsie the traditional holiday fare for the final month of the year.  Shakespeare anyone?

Soulstice Theatre’s
production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) runs  December 3rd – 19th at the Marian Center’s 4th Floor Theatre.

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