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Spoofing Shakespeare

How can three male actors possibly perform the complete works of William Shakespeare in a mere 90 minutes? Go to The Wilton Playshop next weekend to find out.

A ninety-minute three-man show of sheer mayhem and hilarity entertained a packed house Saturday night at The Wilton Playshop.

Dessert First Productions performed The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a parody of all of the plays written by William Shakespeare.  They were performed in the condensed "Reader's Digest" version.

A mere three actors played all of the various complex roles in Shakespeare's works, which, when performed by three men, led to cross-dressing and many funny and chaotic scenes.

The three actors, Jeremy Funke, Kevin Patrick McGuire and Mat Young used their real names and played themselves playing the characters, a sort of "play within the play."  This is typical of other companies who have performed this spoof and leaves the audience wondering if they are making it up on the spot. 

The show was interactive at times, with the characters either sitting in or running through the audience, or pulling theater-goers up on stage to help with the scene.

Directed and produced by Jeremy Funke, Kevin Patrick McGuire and Mat Young, their version of this popular play was completely over-the-top.  Combining improvisation, physical comedy and plenty of fake-vomiting by Young in his female roles, the company had the audience in tears.  

The script was written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield of The Reduced Shakespeare Company and was first performed in 1987. Popular among college and community theater groups, this play is definitely not for literary scholars and snobs. That is unless they have a great sense of humor.

The play began with the actors speaking to the audience about how boring Shakespeare's works were and prepared the audience for how this company would modernize them to make them more entertaining.  The three began with a parody of Romeo and Juliet, with Young playing Juliet in drag.  Next up was Titus Andronicus, with Funke playing it as if he was a chef on a cooking show.  Without giving out too many details, the show got a little bit messy.

Following the blood-and-gore, Titus Andronicus, was Othello done as a rap song. Poking fun at themselves, the three actors played upon the fact that they were far from "funky white boys."

Other versions of condensed plays followed with the actors donning wigs, crazy costumes and using simple funny props which added to the hilarity. Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar was acted out by all three as if in a football game, and they used the British crown as their football. 

Antony and Cleopatra and an adaptation of Macbeth followed with Funke and Young battling over who got to play Sean Connery, with funny Scottish accents from both men.

And just when the audience thought the play was over the characters were about to finish when they realized they forgot to perform Shakespeare's greatest work, Hamlet. Young (in character) didn't know if he had it in him to perform this intense play, and he ran offstage.  McGuire called for intermission before the second act, leaving the audience to wonder if indeed they would get to see Hamlet.

To find out what happened next, come to The Wilton Playshop to see one of the remaining three performances of this brilliantly-acted comedy. 

Audience members thoroughly enjoyed the production.  Maria Tecocoatzi, who was visiting from Mexico, said she "had a wonderful time.  They were excellent actors and it was very funny."

Max Schwendner and Matt Dempsey, both of Wilton, went to school with Kevin Patrick McGuire, and said they loved the performance of Othello.

Erich Greene of New Haven said he loved how "they would draw everything out during the scenes. I really enjoyed it."

The show runs through next weekend with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm. For ticket information click here.

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