Jess Winfield

Wednesdays With Will: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

In an effort to be more productive on my webpage, I’m going to devote Wednesdays and Fridays to the history and craft of theater. Why? I feel that as a dramatist it is important to look and study the works that came before. Wednesdays will be spent with William Shakespeare, probably the greatest English playwright of all time, if not not the important playwright in the history of the world. To accomplish this, I’m going to be spending time watching and reviewing various filmed on stage or filmed versions of The Bard’s plays. Fridays will be general theater . I may be reading a reviewing a play, or watching a filmed live on stage performance, or even going to a show and sharing the experience of watching it live on stage. I may be relating the experiences of working on a show or acting in a show. Fridays will be kind of a free for all.

So without further aideu, lets begin!


So why did I choose this particular work for my premire Shakespeare review? Well let me abridge it for you, it’s great.

Still with me? Good. Now I might be a little biased, as I performed this in the summer of 2010 with one of my best friends. I’ve seen this show probably a dozen times, either on DVD or in person. And it never fails to make me laugh. I know almost every word of every line said. But the reason I think it’s an important piece comes because I have performed this show. In order to fully deliver the lines properly and know what makes them funny is because you have to know what Shakespeare is saying. You don’t have to know Shakespeare to appreciate it, because you can always laugh at someone mixing up Shakespeare with Hitler or a guy dressing in drag and throwing up on audience members. But what this show has is a genuine love of Shakespeare and that is what makes it important.

If you don’t know the show, well then you should watch it and as soon as possible, but let me give you a summery of the show. You have three guys who attempt to perform all of Shakespeare’s shows (and sonnents) in an hour and half. The results are often hilarious (Titus Andronicus as a cooking show! MacBeth in “genuine” Scottish accents! Hamlet…backwards), but also has moments of beautiful acting.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) stars members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company Austin Tichenor, Reed Martin, and Adam Long. Tichenor and Martin shift roles playing the straight man to Long’s antics. But they have their moments of comic timing (example: Tichenor’s delivery of the line “I Love My Willy” in perfect dry wit, or Martin’s ability to keep up with Long during Romeo and Juliet).

The original script was written by founding RSC members Adam Long, Jess Winfield, and Danial Singer with Martin and Tichenor contributing additional materials and shows an ability to condense Shakespeare’s prose and the meaning behind those words with timeless jokes and sight gags that wouldn’t be out of place in a vaudeville show. Winfield has gone on to write a Shakespeare themed novel entitled My Name Is Will that continues to demonstrate his love of The Bard.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) is a must see for fans of William Shakespeare or fans of laughter and comedy. More information about The Reduced Shakespeare Company, how to purchase their DVDs (their The Complete History of America (abridged) has also been released on DVD and may be a future review for my Friday post), or where they are performing can be found at their website.