SAVANNAH'S Department of Cultural Affairs brings The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) to theatre S.P.A.C.E. to do battle against the notion that Shakespeare is a genre confined to forced eighth grade reading lists and dull theatre repertory.
Between drag princesses (otherwise known as Ryan McCurdy) and the use of Godzilla dolls for interpretive purposes, this no-holds-barred production strips away the pretensions that often ward people off of Shakespeare and infuses laughter and absurdity to prove that he is one hell of a funny guy no matter what century you’re in.
Shakespeare (Abridged) is the kind of play where the unplanned is even more delightful than the already hilarious scripted moments. The Reduced Shakespeare Company of Savannah, comprising Phil Keeling, Darwin hull, and Ryan McCurdy, holds no work too sacred as it compares the ascension of English monarchs to a football game and even sneaks in a Paula Deen farce during a visit to the tragedies.
The cast is also very successful at infusing current topics into the show to keep things relevant. One particular such instance is how they poke fun at outlets of watered-down literary resources, like Wikipedia and iPhone, and the frightful inaccuracies therein.
“This play is great in that it’s different every time it’s performed because of the new references the cast bring to it,” says Ellie Pyle, S.P.A.C.E.’s new performing arts coordinator. “But it still retains the bawdiness and spirit of the original material.”
“It’s definitely Shakespeare,” agrees Keeling, “but at the same time it’s Shakespeare with a funny hat.”
The cast is thoroughly pumped about the show and embraces the opportunity to present these classic works in a way that might win over a few new fans for the playwright. While their goal is certainly to make you laugh, this production is also about making Shakespeare accessible to a wide range of people and encouraging them to experience his work in any capacity.
“Shakespeare is not needlessly dense,” explains Hull, “and when you get down to it his work is full of raunchy moments.”
Hull, McCurdy, and Keeling all express how important the energy and timing are to this piece since it’s based so much around improvisation and physical comedy. Dropping a line isn’t so much the worry as falling off someone’s shoulders or having a sword fighting scene get a little too real.
“It’s a three person show, so there’s a huge level of trust,” explains Hull. “When one person is an inch off or a minute late the whole thing can go down in flames.” cs
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
Where: S.P.A.C.E. , 9 West Henry Street
When: January 16-17, 23-24 at 8 pm, January 18 & 25 at 3 p.m.
Cost: $10 general admission, $7 for seniors and students.
Info: www.savannahga.gov/artsor call 912-651-6783 for more info