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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at the Lake Theatre, Review

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The Bard…in a Highly Comical Nutshell

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at the Lake Theatre, Review

Corey Tazmania and Jarel Davidow in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).Let’s face it: you either love William Shakespeare or you hate him. Regardless of your feelings, there’s no doubt that the Bard has left an indelible impact on the literary world with his 37 plays, a gazillion poems and millions of sonnets, that have withstood the test of time.

The funny thing is, very few of us have actually read all of Shakespeare’s plays. Yes, some of the plays are a tad dry, a bit long-winded (some plays run over four hours), and maybe even a bit dated. For some, Shakespeare’s dramas could be seen as ponderous and his comedies may not be as funny as we would like to believe. But it’s the power of his words, the countless famous phrases and quotes which have become part of our lexicon, that have made him one of the greatest, if not the greatest writers of all time.

But still, 37 plays is quite a handful to tackle…but the Lake Theatre has just the tonic for you world-weary souls with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). It’s an incredibly zany and joyous exploration of Shakespeare’s works, all summed up in just 97 minutes. Yes, this is an entertaining night at the theater…you will laugh yourself silly.

Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, this madcap piece is a hilarious addition to the Lake Theatre’s canon of finely sculpted comedies. This particular piece has a tireless energy, with the added touch of encouraging audience participation throughout the course of the show. It’s a daunting task to even consider summarizing all of Shakespeare’s play into roughly 97 minutes of time…but it works. The laughs are plentiful, the energy is fantastic and it’s something that will appeal to both young and old audiences, because, who didn’t have to read Shakespeare, against their will, in high school?

The play is physically demanding: our three performers, Jarel Davidow, Matt Reddick and Corey Tazmania, under Terry Rabine’s imaginative direction, have a boundless energy, abundant stamina, with probably a few cups of coffee thrown in the mix to create a vibrant, theatrical experience.

As for the show, some of Shakespeare’s works get a brief analysis, some are just mentioned in passing, while others get a bit more of an exploration. For example, there is a humorous take of the relentlessly violent Titus Andronicus being envisioned as a cooking show. Othello is given a modern and highly energetic hip-hop interpretation while Macbeth is hammed up with gut busting over-exaggerated Scottish accents, kilts and golf clubs. And yes, Romeo and Juliet both get a firm spanking.

Jarel Davidow, Matt Reddick and Corey Tazmania in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).After racing frenetically through all the comedies and historical dramas (yes, including all three parts of King Henry the Sixth), the show comes to an end…except for one thing…Hamlet. After a short intermission where the actors take a much-needed oxygen break…we return to Hamlet, which is the primary focus of Act the Second. Here Hamlet is taken apart, glued back together and reassembled…even performed backwards (!), then forwards again without a break in momentum. Arguably, Shakespeare’s most famous play, the audience becomes part of the fun, with a meticulous psychological breakdown where sections of the room are encouraged to play the id, ego and the subconscious of the character of Ophelia…. Yes, she’s a mess, but we all knew that…

Terry Rabine’s production is extremely charming and engaging, especially in the split-second timing where the actors have barely a millisecond to make a costume change or switch a prop. The frenetic energy and camaraderie between the players adds to its overall kookiness. Davidow, Reddick and Tazmania strike a perfect balance with a show that thrives on split-second timing and a tireless energy that many of us could not even attempt to keep up with. And did I mention that there is audience participation, and perhaps a scene involving dancing?

So grab thy gauntlets, skip the Nunnery, see the show and have the salmon… Yes, friends, come for some fine fare prior to the show…disappointed thou shant be.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) runs through October 10, 2015 at the Lake Theatre in Lake George, NY. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Dave Bower is Co-Publisher of the Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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