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the complete works of william shakespeare – abridged @ meraki arts bar


[usr 4]

When Hamlet utters the words, ‘The play’s the thing!’, the Bard probably did not have in mind a play in which an attempt is made to perform  abridged versions [some extremely abridged] of all of his plays, in about 70 minutes! Yet three, enormously talented actors do just that, in a way that provides non-stop [obviously] entertainment and many moments of pure hilarity, in an ingenious work that leaves both the cast, and the audience, exhausted, but happily so.

The plot is simple. Three out of work actors attempt to do something which will bring them recognition [and an agent!]. Only three plays, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth are given some sort of performances, while the rest of the plays are simply mentioned, or grouped together or, in the case of Shakespeare’s comedies, brilliantly “abridged” by, delightfully, mixing all the plots together by referencing their main features.

There are moments of inspired comedy: a play on words to shock the prurient, performing Macbeth where the characters use exaggerated Scottish accents, intermittent audience participation to great effect and, by way of a finale, the performing of parts of Hamlet backwards.

Alexander Spinks, Lib Campbell and Tel Benjamin are comic actors of the highest order. They throw themselves [often literally] into the various Shakespearean roles they play, and none sets a foot wrong. Within seconds, each creates a rapport with the audience that never lessens.

The play is a creative monument to bizarre, but hugely likeable, mayhem. One fault is that, at times, the lines are hurried, so that it is hard to catch every word, but that, as it were, “goes with the territory” of what the cast sets out to do.

The play is suited only to be performed in a small and intimate theatre, which is a pity as it limits the number of people who will be lucky enough to see it.

The show, at the Meraki  Bar is a thoroughly enjoyable comedic romp! Shakespeare would have loved it!

THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ABRIDGED is playing the Meraki Arts Bar, 231 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst  until the 22nd April 2023.

Production photography by Clare Hawley

Review by Dr Ron Desiatnik





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