‘Shakespeare (abridged)’ spans hilarious moments

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By Sara Miller

An evening of fun for the many people in merry old England was a night at the Globe Theatre. Peasants and princes alike gathered to share in the raucous festivities of a Shakespearean masterpiece. And raucous it was — with boos and cheers, the groundlings packed into the pit with tickets priced at a penny a piece, and the actors addressing the audience every step of the way.

In the spirit of the Globe Theatre’s festive frolics through the Bard’s canon, the Evergreen Players are present “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged).”

For those unfamiliar with the show, cast members Matt Bachus, Len Matheo and Bruce Montgomery gleefully condense all 37 recognized Shakespeare plays into one show. The audience will see all of Shakespeare’s history plays (Richards, Henrys, Edwards and John) condensed into an American football game parody. “Othello” becomes a rap song, and “Romeo and Juliet” is a frenetic 12-minute jaunt through life, love and untimely death.

“We first did this show in 2008,” says director Scott Ogle. “We’re working with the same three actors this time. Len, Matt and Bruce all work together so well. Once actors have developed that sense of trust for one another, it allows them to push the boundaries of a show and really experiment with some new things.”

Ogle and the cast have updated the show — tapping into their extensive improv experience to create up-to-date jokes and references that fit with the spirit of the show. They also created a multimedia sequence, working with a local film student to create a short movie that shows two actors chasing each other through downtown Evergreen.

“Len is chasing Bruce through Evergreen. You see them on the Lake when there was still ice skating, running past the Little Bear and through the tunnels under Highway 74 near the theater,” says Ogle.

Working together in past productions and without the help of a script in EPiC (Evergreen Players Improv Comedy) has given the actors plenty of time to play with their craft.

“We know that Matt struggles with using accents onstage. So we’ve played with this. We created a portion of the show in which Bruce is challenging Matt to use different accents throughout the scene. Bruce comes up with a new list every night, so it’s fresh for everyone — including the actors — which makes the results hilarious,” says Ogle.

The entire evening clocks in at less than two hours, with much of the time spent poking fun at Shakespeare’s plays and his sources of inspiration. Most importantly, the actors poke fun at themselves, always maintaining a healthy respect for the works and genius of the Bard — albeit, a slightly irreverent respect.

“The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged)”

Presented by the Evergreen Players April 2 and 3, Friday and Saturday. Performances at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $8 for those 12 and under, $14 for students and seniors, $18 for adults.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.evergreenplayers.org or call 303-674-4934.