Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)
Actors Nick Mandracchia, Zac Schuman and Erik Weiss give tremendous energy and zeal to their performances, summoning a tongue-in-cheek delivery for this wacky script. The text encourages the performers to ad-lib and add contemporary cultural references, as well as relate directly to the audience, and it's clear they've liberally "dosed" the script with local color and added remarks. These are fun when they aren't too snide.
However, there's far too much shouting, in this very small theatre, which tends to erode expression and blast the audience into numbness. Some shouting is called for in the script, but that doesn't mean the entire work is to be delivered at top volume. The slapstick is often over-exaggerated and, combined with shouting, results in a failure to land the jokes and more subtle comic timing. Sight-gags and physical comedy are critical to the piece, of course, but precision and design would enhance understanding and get the desired laughs. The breakneck speed called for by the script needs care when speaking Shakespeare (or pseudo-Shakespeare), or all comprehension is forfeited.
This isn't to say that nothing is funny in this productionsome of it is enjoyable, and the three performers are likable. It's just that too much comic opportunity is lost.
There's an attractive backdrop by set designer Conor Woods, and some clever lighting by April George. Props masters Ben Harper and Erik Weiss and wig designer Roxie Johnson have a field day with this one.
Unfortunately, it's not as wildly funny as one hoped.
The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), through June 3, 2018, in the Studio Theatre, 6th Street Playhouse, 52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa CA. Tickets $22.00-$35.00 can be purchased online at www.6thstreetplayhouse.com or by phone at 707-523-4185 ext. 1