Huntington Playhouse is offering up a zesty production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) directed by Improv Wizard Marc Moritz.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is a play written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield. The convention of the piece is that it parodies all the plays of William Shakespeare, while being performed by only three actors. In this case, the cast is Douglas F. Bailey II, Sean Cahill, and Dan Sekanic. Typically, the actors use their real names, which they do here, and play themselves when they are not characters or having a ball with the audience.  The script allows and encourages improvisation, which results in each performance being different and fresh. Local and topical references are often added to the mayhem.

The writers, Long, Singer, and Winfield—former founding members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company—first performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987, and later played at the Criterion Theatre in London, where it ran for nine years. It has become one of the world’s most popular shows, playing frequently in a variety of languages. It is notable for holding the (self-proclaimed) world record for the shortest-ever performance of Hamlet, clocking in at 43 seconds, as well as the fastest performance of Hamlet backwards, at 42 seconds.

Moritz has taken the show’s improvisation moments, and let the sexual overtones run free. This approach has colored the occasion with a Vegas lounge feel. This interpretation lends itself to puppets taking it every which way but loose, naughty text interpretation, nipple rubbing, and proclaiming that “Taylor Swift is a whore.” Fitting that into the abridged works of Shakespeare keeps the audience on their toes, and creates some nervous laughter. A charming Bailey opens the show with a warm welcome and prepares the audience for the evening flight plan. Sekanic joins later on, as Cahill joins them from the audience with hilarious results.

The action begins with a parody of Romeo and Juliet, followed by a Titus Andronicus cooking show. Following is Othello, which is done through a rap song. The rest of the first act demonstrates most of the other plays by all of the comedies being combined into one convoluted reading, all of the histories being acted out through athletic activity, complete with cheerleaders, a reduction of Julius Caesar to his death, followed immediately by a reduction of Antony and Cleopatra and Macbeth. At the end of the act, the characters are about to finish, when they realize that they forgot to perform Coriolanus, exacerbated, the other actors run out of the theater. The final actor is left to entertain the audience by himself and introduce the intermission.

After the intermission, the entire second act is the performance of Hamlet. The audience gets involved during this segment when one audience member is asked to portray Ophelia for the Nunnery Scene. The rest of the audience makes up Ophelia’s subconscious, with three sections that each represent her ego, superego, and id. This whole bit was executed really well, and the audience ate it up. After the portrayal of Hamlet, the actors realize they have a little time left, and proceed to recreate all the plays in 30 seconds. And if that isn’t enough, they finish by performing it backwards. However, at this performance, the cast wheels came off completely during the last scene, (flubbing lines), which caused the cast to break, and ended the show in a muddled mess. But, it was fun getting there.

Stage Manger Joy DeMarco (called a clean show), Set Design Tom Meyrose (looked great), Light and Sound Design Chuck Tisdale (great), Costume Design David Glowe (very creative).

June 5 – June 29
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

$10-$20 Reserved Seating

(440) 871-8333

Huntington Playhouse
28601 Lake Road
Bay Village, OH 44140