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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised) (Rio Nido/Guerneville)

Shakespeare – the world’s greatest writer in the English language. Shakespeare – the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. Shakespeare – a name that strikes terror in the hearts and minds of some high school English students and induces fits of boredom in others. No doubt some of those students have muttered something very similar to a line of dialogue from Pegasus Theater’s current production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised)”, “Why can’t Shakespeare be more like sports?”

Or a rap battle? Or a cooking show? Well, it can be, at least in the minds of Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, writers of “The Complete Works…” Promising 37 plays in 97 minutes, they throw everything at the audience (including, actually, a kitchen sink/tub via “Titus Andronicus”) in their attempt to present every entry in the Shakespeare canon in a somewhat truncated and severely modified form. “Romeo & Juliet” is done in 7 minutes. All 16 of Shakespeare’s comedies are combined into a 5 minute production. The  histories are delivered via a sportscaster covering a football game. (See?)

Clint Campbell, Matt Cadigan, Freddie Lambert

It’s one thing to write such an absurdity; it’s another thing entirely to have to perform it. Thankfully, director Nick Christenson has Matt Cadigan, Clint Campbell and Freddie Lambert, a trio of talented and physically-fit actors to bring a plethora of Shakespearean characters to life. I mention “physically fit” because the actors get quite a workout in this show.  Numerous quick changes and the physical tomfoolery that goes with zippy reenactments of duels, murders, and sweet, sweet lovemaking leave the actors absolutely drenched in sweat by the end of the show. (I hope the costumes are laundered nightly, for the actors’ sake and for those sitting in the front rows.)

They do it with gusto and verve and seem to be thoroughly enjoying the challenge. When a cast is having fun and doing everything within their power to entertain you, an audience can’t help but to join them in the fun – literally – as there are moments when innocent bystanders are enlisted to help with a scene or two.  Abundant laughter was provided by the opening weekend audience to reward the hard-working actors for their effort.

So plan an evening out with some friends. Load them into your car and announce that you’re treating them to an evening of Shakespeare.  Enjoy their squirming on the ride to Rio Nido as they try to figure out how to get out of an evening of “thee’s”, “thou’s”, and “wherefore’s”.  Then sit back and watch them give in to the effervescent energy springing from the stage.   

Matt Cadigan, Freddie Lambert, Clint Campbell

To engage in a bit of theatrical cheesemongering and to borrow the “cooking show” analogy, take three talented performers, blend with a script that contains two parts parody, one part burlesque, and one part improvisation, mix in a dash of audience participation, then add in a sprinkling of actual Shakespeare and you end up with one frothy theatrical soufflé known as “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abr) (rev)”.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised) 

A Pegasus Theater Production

May 16 through June 8

Evenings Fri, Sat @ 8pm   Matinee Sun @ 4pm

Pegasus Theater at Rio Nido Lodge
4444 Wood Rd
Rio Nido, CA 95446
(707) 583-2343

Photos by Al Christenson, Nick Charles


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