‘Complete Works’ Makes Shakespeare Palatable For Theater Goers (5 Stars)

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) – Written/Adapted by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield; Directed by Lauren Elias; Presented by The Hub Theatre Company at Club Cafe, 209 Columbus Ave., Boston thru August 2nd.

I don’t like Shakespeare. I’m an actor, and a thoroughly trained one at that, and I would willingly choose the classics from Greece over England any day. Shakespeare is always too “wordy”, it takes me ages to get the point of what’s happening on the page, and God forbid I try to act out monologues outside of a classroom, because I’ll probably miss all of the important objectives between the “dost thou bite thy thumb” and “joke’s on you Hermia!”  HOWEVER, I have never enjoyed anything having to do with Shakespeare as much as I did Hub Theatre Company’s production detailing his “complete” works.

The show features three actors, mucking about in wigs and rough costumes, speaking in verse, all while explaining to the audience what Shakespeare was trying to convey to all of us at the end of the day. This was a brilliant concoction of comedy, tragedy, slapstick, and educational quips. The Hub Theatre Company would certainly have something marketable for high school students if they wanted to take this act on the road. Our players used relatable analogies such as sports and cooking shows to tell us all the gory details of Titus and some of the historical plays. Prior to this, I would describe any of Shakespeare’s works about kings to be a snooze-fest, but at the Club Cafe they were, at the very least, amusing.  

Snaps and praise should certainly go towards the writers/adapters of the piece. Throwing together the histories to keep us engaged, and blistering through 16 comedies in 5 minutes to explain his intentions was nothing short of great writing and an understanding of the audience. Also, it’s important for the average non-enthusiast to understand that not everything from The Bard was simply brilliant. Just like any other writer, he wrote some “crap” to pay the bills, and then got lucky when it worked in his favor. To focus on a few plays longer than the “crap” and truly show the educational value in the endeavor was certainly the right choice. Add the quick wit and dimensional characteristics of the actors themselves, and hearty applause is well deserved for all parties involved.

Comedic trios are hard to find these days, as actors often copy and paste hacky approaches to portray stereotypes when working in a group. These performers were far from hacks, and it was truly a refreshing reassurance that old school comedy can still work in today’s raunch-centric world. The actors certainly did a great job of selling the material, even the bits that would have otherwise deserved an eye roll instead of a guffaw. Our straight man, Brooks Reeves, maintained complete control while throwing in impressive voices through each character change. He was happily accompanied by the the “dumb” yet surprisingly knowledgeable duo, Patrick Curran and Adam Lauver (the latter of the whom only had a whopping week’s worth of rehearsal to sub for William J. Moore for opening weekend!). This team will have you cackling in your seats and begging for more. You may even learn a thing or two without having to use a thesaurus and Cliff Notes.  

The Hub Theatre Company of Boston is the only non-profit theatre company in town that offers all of their performances at a pay-what-you-can price. The pre-show with Michael Anderson, “Hallucinating Shakespeare”, is basically offering you a two-for-one deal when you’re already getting a good deal. If you enjoy the “Moth” stories, standup comedy, or both, then get there  early for Anderson’s performance!  Don’t give up the chance to support local theatre and get some unintended educational laughs in the meantime. Not advised to take children under 12 and every performance is pay-what-you-can. For more info, go to: http://www.clubcafe.com/