By Claire DeMarco, ‘Burgh Vivant
Hark! Listen! Pay Attention! Something funny this way cometh!
“William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged)” is based on an imaginary discovery of the Bard’s first play. Found in a hole in a parking lot in Leicester, England, this fictitious find is the first play written by a seventeen-year old William Shakespeare (and in his own hand). Tallied at over 100 hours of play time and approximately 1639 characters, this “masterpiece” contains every character Shakespeare ever created, every plot ever developed, every mistaken identity ever devised, every set of twins envisioned; an imagination gone wild!
Puck and others (Reed Martin), Hamlet, Shakespeare and others (Austin Tichenor) and Ariel and others (Teddy Spencer) take this hypothetical discovery and trim it down to a reasonable output.
The audience is also involved intermittently on how this huge work will be reduced from at one count, Act IV, Scene 2079 to something more reasonable.
Shakespeare finally concludes that there are perhaps 39 or more plays contained within this giant undertaking. Hamlet should be a standalone play, Puck and Ariel will not be paired together, Lady Macbeth and Hamlet did not have “a thing.” Perhaps more thought was also needed for some of the character names. Romeo and Ethel may need rework, fine tuning.
The stage is unadorned with a backdrop suggesting an outdoor façade with two open doorways.
Martin, Tichenor and Spencer transition from one character to another, changing costumes that reflect their new identity (whether male or female) to dialogue delivered in verse to natural conversation.
Their efforts are seamless and smooth. Comedic timing is perfect. Martin, Tichenor and Spencer’s actions are fast paced, but not frenetic. They segue easily between changes in character and costumes and deliver a potluck of innuendoes, puns, sarcasm and double takes.
Hilarious, amusing, farcical and even silly. Silliness is a wonderful sensation and should be succumbed to as often as possible.
It doesn’t matter if you love Shakespeare or not, funny is funny.
“William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged)” is written and directed by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor.
Performed by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged) runs through July 1, 2018 at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, 621 Penn Avenue. For more information, go here.