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Something may be rotten in the state of Denmark, but not in the city of Northville, where a madcap romp through every Shakespeare play ever written had theatergoers at Tipping Point Theatre gushing with praise on opening night.
And rightfully so, since “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” had me laughing pretty much non-stop throughout the performance.
Co-produced by the Williamston Theatre and directed by Williamston’s artistic director Tony Caselli, “The Complete Works” is just that – a parody of The Bard’s 38 plays (including the ones few have ever heard of) by three actors in a little more than 90 minutes that even die-hard Shakespeare-haters will enjoy.
Act one flashes through all but one of the plays, spending quality time with a gender-bent “Romeo and Juliet,” “Titus Andronicus” (re-imagined as a cooking show) and “Othello” (as a white-boy rap). Shakespeare’s comedies are then lumped together into a parody called “The Love Boat to Verona,” while all of the Kings from Shakespeare’s histories get together for a football game. And here, the tragedies are anything but tragic!
The second act is devoted entirely to “Hamlet” – complete with hand puppets, audience participation and a backwards “rewind” that makes reciting Shakespeare seem easy by comparison.
What charms the audience isn’t so much the delightful script, first performed in 1987 by the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Rather, actors Aral Gribble, Keith Kalinowski and Kevin T. Young brighten the stage with both their easy, breezy camaraderie and their zany, frantic antics.
Gribble, who plays all of the female roles, is especially comfortable interacting with the audience, while Young’s ambiance of a classically trained actor serves his roles well. (He plays a mean “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar, too!)
But it’s Kalinowski who merits special praise. Called to replace an ailing actor only four days before previews, Kalinowski storms the stage with utter confidence, the result of which is a fine performance from start to finish.
Daniel C. Walker’s set – with the obligatory balcony, of course – and his lighting enhance the experience quite well.
The show moves to Williamston for a summertime run beginning July 2.
‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)’
Tipping Point Theatre & Williamston Theatre at Tipping Point Theatre, 361 E. Cady St., Northville. Thursday-Sunday through May 31. $18-$28. 248-347-0003. http://www.tippingpointtheatre.org.