Shakespeare in two hours
Every play ever written

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 18/00) - Call it what you will, plays within a play or scripted improvisation, but The Complete Wks of Willm Shkspr (Abridged) promises to provide an interpretation of the bard, the likes of which has never been seen in Yk.

"It's basically what we call in the theatre world, the Reader's Digest version of every Shakespeare play ever written," says Heather Murdoch, who takes a leave from acting to wear the director's cap for the first time.

"It was developed by three guys, it's a three-hander, three men, and they perform every Shakespeare play in under two hours," says Murdoch, explaining the genesis of the play.

Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, of California, performed a version of this play as improvisational theatre. In 1987, after performing it countless times, they decided to script it. It has played London and New York, and is now experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

This show says Shakespeare is accessible, he's hilarious, he's fun, says Murdoch

"It's very visceral theatre. And though technically it's scripted, it's improvisational theatre.

"It's a real zany romp through the brilliant mind of Shakespeare."

The play was also a different sort of challenge for the actors.

"You don't get a script and say, 'This is your character, go fill in your background.' (Each actor) plays a dozen characters each.

"As well, Ken, Randy and Mark -- who are my three actors -- there are roles for them as themselves. They have to play themselves. That's also been a challenge for them."

The scenes that encompass each Shakespeare play feature the main conflict -- that forms the crux of the play -- on stage.

"You do get the main seedlings of each play ...'Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo' or 'A horse a horse, a kingdom for a horse,' Richard III, 'To be or not to be'... it's all kind of fast forward."

But the show isn't all fragments. It's frames by the three actor/characters wanting to present all of Shakespeare to their audience.

And in case you're not quite up to snuff on the myriad plays of Shakespeare, they will be listed in the program, like a map of sorts.

The Complete Wks of Willm Shkspr (Abridged) plays at NACC March 1-4. Tickets are available at the Birchwood Gallery.