By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT TOWNSEND –– The richest half-century of playwriting will be staged in just over 1½ hours as the Key City Public Theatre presents “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”
The bonanza of the Bard plays the next two weekends in the shady setting of Chetzemoka Park, opening tonight. Performances begin at 6 p.m., with seating open at 5:30 p.m., tonight, Saturday and Sunday, as well as next Friday through Sunday, Aug. 22-24.
Admission is by suggested donation of $20 to $24 or $10 for students.
Advance tickets are available from the playhouse box office at 360-385-5278 or online at keycitypublictheatre.org.
“The Complete Works” is directed by Amy E. Sousa and features Duncan Frost, Anthony Phillips and Ben Rezendes.
The play was first performed by its authors, Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987. After running at the Criterion Theatre in London for nine years, it has become one of the most popular stage parodies of all time.
It features the world's shortest performance of “Hamlet,” wrapping up the tragic Dane's life in just 43 seconds as actors rip through mangled minuets of Shakespeare's anthology with a comedic touch added to his histories, comedies and tragedies.
“We are definitely pushing the boundaries and poking fun but ultimately as an act of love,” Sousa said.
Rezendes said the production allows actors to come up with inventive ways to incorporate local culture and even the audience into the show.
“This show was written to be adapted to the performers,” he said. “Throughout the play, there are numerous jokes that we have taken the liberty of changing, adding and cutting based on our group dynamics.”
Phillips said the performance throws back to Shakespeare's original Globe Theatre productions.
“Let it be known that Shakespeare's company looked their audience in the eyes, and that this show is truly a tribute to Shakespeare because it asks us to do the same,” he said.
The park sets were designed by Terry Tennesen, with costumes by Colleen Dobbin.
Fight scenes were choreographed by Rezendes.
Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating on the grass and to dress warmly for when the sun goes down.
Proceeds from a concession stand with hot dogs, beverages and light refreshments will go toward Key City Public Theatre's Scholarship Fund.
The play is sponsored by Sunshine Propane, and the theater's season sponsors are Alchemy Bistro & Wine Bar and SOS Printing.