Laugh hard at the Bard in Tacoma Little Theatre’s gag-a-minute “Complete Shakespeare Abridged (Revised)”
It’s every comedy actor’s dream – a show where you can do as many girly screams, fake vomiting, cheesy Scottish accents and penis jokes as you like, plus declaim Shakespeare’s most famous speeches all in one night. But “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised)” also lets the audience do what they’ve always wanted – poke fun at the Bard’s silly or boring bits – and the version currently running at Tacoma Little Theatre doesn’t disappoint.
Created by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield in the 1980s, this hysterically funny parody aims to retell all of Shakespeare’s works in one two-hour show, and have a good laugh at everything from bad rhymes to melodramatic actors along the way. It has its flaws – the balance never works, with a longish condensed “Romeo and Juliet” followed by ever-shorter medleys of everything else and no less than four versions of “Hamlet” to finish – but it’s still hugely successful, and the TLT cast directed ably by Suzy Wilhoft have updated it to take in such 16th-century phenomena as cell phones, Google and “Downton Abbey” with very clever results.
This play lives or dies on its cast, and TLT has chosen a good one. Luke Amundsen (recently seen in Found Space’s “Zoo Story”) is the straight guy, the solid deadpan rock who anchors the manic craziness of TLT and Lakewood Playhouse regular Alex Smith, who takes on all the girl roles with hysterical glee. Playing the would-be scholar, a self-indulgent Hamlet and more is Coleman Hagerman (the Dodger in Lakewood’s “Oliver”) whose perfectly-timed delivery and wide-eyed goofiness belie his age (he’s a high school junior).