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A CurtainUp NJ Review
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)(revised)
May the Bard be with you
— Performer John Barker in the show's hilarious prologue.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)(revised
Almost as entertaining and gratifying as the performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)(revised) on the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's outdoor stage was the presence and the response to it by the large number of young people under the age of 18. These youngsters who attended (and will be attending throughout the run) free of charge thanks to the support from the National Endowment for the Arts were as conspicuously responsive and appreciative as were their elders on opening night.

While I suspect that a significant portion of the complete works of the Bard may not be as familiar as they will undoubtedly be for those older members of the audience, the madcap antics and mischievous prowess of the three terrific performers— Jon Barker, Connor Carew and Patrick Toon — provided immeasurable joy and jollity for all in attendance. But it really doesn't take familiarity with the comedies, tragedies and romances and even the sonnets to take pleasure in this popular send-up which has now been juiced up with plenty of topical/timely resonances, each bringing a renewed freshness to this irrepressibly irreverent romp through the canon.

If the contemporary Romeo (with hair over one eye and on a skate board) " trying to get into Juliet's pants" proves to be the major plot point for the 12 minute gender-bending replay of Romeo and Juliet, the three guys in tights, sneakers and assorted wigs didn't let plot points get in the way of their blood and guts galore deconstruction of Titus Andronicus , as performed as TV cooking show or by the rap condensation (no apologies to Hamilton) of Othello.

As originally written in 1987 by Adam Loang, Daniel Singer & Jess Winfield, the garrulous text and goofy lyrics are especially notable in the compression of all the comedies that involve the reunion of twins and of mistaken identity under the umbrella title " Four Weddings and a Transvestite. " Of course, all's well that ends well when "they all get married in New Jersey."

What more does one need than a thick brogue, a loose kilt and a set of golf clubs to insure the intrigue within The Scottish Play, or a crown that gets tossed from player to player in a raucous game of football to explain the succession of kings in the history plays.And that leaves a psycho Hamlet and a Trump-eting King to bring the show to its riotous conclusion.

Under the direction of Jeffrey Bender, the three expert farceurs (all familiar to STNJ audiences), take virtually no prisoners from Shakespeare's 1200 or more characters as they scamper and scale the heights of designer Benjamin Kramer's gigantic mountain-of-books setting. As performed in the stone amphitheatre, the production under the stars has been beautifully lighted by designer Hamilton E.S. Smith. Many, as I do, also choose to picnic but not to get stoned on the great lawn before the show.

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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)(revised)
By Adam Long, Daniel Singer & Jess Winfield
Directed by Jeffrey M. Bender

Cast: Jon Barker, Connor Carew, Patrick Toon
Set Designer: Benjamin Kramer
Costume Designer: Tiffany Lent
Sound Designer: Kari B. Berntson
Production Stage Manager: Jackie Mariani
Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes including 20 minute intermission
Outdoor Stage: The Greek Theatre, 2 Convent Road (at Convent Station), Morris Township, NJ (on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth).
(973) - 408 - 5600 or
Tickets: $25 - $35. Young people 18 and under attend for free.
From 06/22/16 Opened 06/29/16 Ends 07/31/16
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 06/29/16

NJ Theaters
NJ Theatre Alliance
Discount Tix Information

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