Drama: ‘The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr Abridged’ a highly comedic and interactive parody

Ashish Samaddar

Satire sets ‘Shakespeare Abridged’ apart from other student productions of Shakespeare plays.

Whether you love or hate Shakespeare’s plays, you have to agree that some of his descriptions and phrasings may come off convoluted and strange compared to contemporary literature. MVHS Drama’s latest mainstage production, “The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr Abridged,” directed by drama teacher Sara Capule, poked fun at all of the plotlines of his various tragedies, from drawn-out death scenes in “Hamlet” where every major character dies to romantic scenes from “Romeo and Juliet.”

What set this play apart from previous Drama productions based off of Shakespeare’s work is its satirical tone, as Shakespeare Abridged was one gigantic and entertaining parody of all of Shakespeare’s works. A unique characteristic of this mainstage production was that, while already informal, the actors directly interact with the audience in a comical way. By satirizing Shakespeare, MV Drama makes his work more accessible and relatable, and by making it interactive actors are literally pulling the audience into the play performance, resulting in even more accessibility and appreciation.

The play definitely deserved its title and thoroughly amused its audience with satirical comedy. Even though it focused on more popular plays such as “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet,” there were snippets of other plays such as “Twelfth Night”, “Macbeth”, “Julius Caesar” and “Cleopatra.” The production was both complete and successfully abridged. With several short dialogues the play summarized over a dozen plays and poems without feeling rushed.

The play incorporated numerous satirical devices that kept both students and teachers engaged. A particularly enjoyable example included the play on words with “call me but love” in the sketch of “Romeo and Juliet,” where “but” is interpreted as if it had an extra ‘t’ at the end. Another excellent instance of this was the extra-condensed encore of “Hamlet” where all the actors just collapse.

Adding to the satirical color of the play was the informal tone the actors used. Instead of truly embodying the Shakespearean characters throughout the play, the actors would sometimes break the fourth wall. For instance, when seniors Simone Becker and Maria Kosta introduced the play to the audience, they gave the impression that the play would begin a few minutes later and they were discussing background information. But its introduction was a purposeful part of the play script and plot.

Widespread crossdress served to establish suggestive humor, and made the satirical nature of the play all the more apparent. When junior Akshay Savale portrayed the character of Juliet, he occasionally spoke in an overly high pitched voice and then reverted to his normal deeper voice seconds later to provide hilarious contrast. Other notables examples of drag in Romeo and Juliet included sophomore Hari Ganesh’s portrayal of the nurse, whose evocative interactions with cross-dressed Akshay generated much laughter from the audience, and sophomore Alexis Standridge’s interpretation of Claudius, the uncle and antagonist of Hamlet, who wore a gigantic fake beard that looked rather realistic on her.

At certain times, the audience was divided into three sections, all of which had silly names, from A-team to B(ee) to C-section.” The audience then chanted out silly suggestive lines, that connected with the section name, the C-section talking mainly about women wanting love and babies because of the C-section method of child delivery. Other times certain audience members were randomly called out to interact with the actors. One or two people in the audience were planted and were actually actors from the production, however many other people called were general audience members. Part of the props the actors used were harmless foam string projectiles that served as fake vomit. If you are sitting in the front and are in easy range to the actors, prepare to enjoy a wonderful ride.

Shows are held in the MVHS auditorium on March 7, 8, 14 and 15. Tickets can be bought in the academic court and online at www.seatyourself.biz/montavista this week for $12 to $14, depending on the date and and seat location, or at the door for the same price. The show on March 15 will contain a senior slideshow at the end to recognize the seniors that have been a part of MV Drama.