To Laugh Or Not To Laugh . . . 

That is not really the question, because anybody watching The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) will be laughing through much of this feel-good show now running at Little Theatre of Alexandria. While the show stays true to the original scripts, the director, Joanna Henry, took literary license to include some current references to Trump, pro-choice, and other current trends. Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, the play is produced by Rebecca Sheehy and Russell Wyland.

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Hans Dettmar

In the course of two hours, three actors – Hans Dettmar, Dave Wright, and Shawn g. Byers – manage a multitude of roles and convey something about all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s tiring just watching these actors as they jab and jibe and dance and strut across the stage, all the time making seamless transitions from one play to another. Simple props like hand-knit wigs, jackets, swords and other items alter the scenes. The set is simple – a set of columns – but change of lighting goes a long way towards altering the setting for the various plays.

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Hans Dettmar, Shawn g. Byers, and Dave Wright

Some scenes are just a blip, often combining several plays into one segment, but other scenes, like the ones representing  Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, receive more attention. Indeed, Hamlet is the sole focus of the second half where Dettmar, Wright, and Byers ham it up, showing Hamlet in a much lighter tone than was originally intended. Once they complete the full rendering of the play (albeit abridged), they attempt to do it faster and faster – and even backward!

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Dave Wright and Shawn g. Byers

Audience participation is a large part of Act II where a female is selected from the audience to portray Ophelia and a male is asked to portray her ego. The entire audience is then separated into three groups, playing the ID, Ego and Super Ego, and asked to chant corresponding mantras.

As the promotional material says, “If you love Shakespeare, you will like our play. If you hate Shakespeare, you will love our play!”

Photos by Matt Liptak
Top: Hans Dettmar, Shawn g. Byers, and Dave Wright

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) runs through March 19, 2016 at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Box Office at 703-683-0496.

About Gale Curcio (15 Articles)
Gale Curcio is a freelance writer who writes for several local publications. She manages Curcio Connections, a multi-faceted business that focuses on running Estate Sales (salebygale.com), retail, and writing. She was a reporter and editor with the Connection Newspapers for over 10 years. She also spent four years doing development, marketing and communications for non-profit organizations. Visit her website at www.curcioconnections.com.