Three actors perform all 37 of William Shakespeare’s plays in 97 minutes. That’s the making of a Shakespearean comedy, all right.
Tiger Reel, Michael Faulkner and Dan Saski of Reduced Shakespeare Co. take on the challenge. The comedy troupe, which has a tour stop in Bothell, play hundreds of the Bard’s characters and have dozens of costume changes among them.
The pop-up Shakespeare company will perform “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” — abridged, of course — at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Northshore Performing Arts Center in Bothell. The fast-paced, irreverent and zany romp through Shakespeare’s works will include “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet” and “Much Ado about Nothing.”
“It’s somewhere between a roller coaster and an escape room,” Reel said. “If you’re a Shakespeare fan, you’ll love it, and if you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love it.”
Reel, 51, of Los Angeles, said they get laughs as the audience watches them scramble to sum up huge plays and quickly change costumes. Then there’s also the Monty Python-inspired slapstick humor.
He has about 20 wardrobe changes throughout the show. Yet he considers himself lucky, if only because Faulkner and Saski have to swap costumes about 10 more times than him.
“It’s sort of like running a small marathon every night,” Reel said. “You do it long enough and it becomes muscle memory.”
There also will be a few inside jokes that only Shakespeare aficionados will understand. But nobody needs to be an expert on the Bard to enjoy themselves.
“You don’t have to worry so much about the story,” Reel said. “It’s about three guys trying to do it all and not screw it up.”
The Reduced Shakespeare Co. was founded in 1981 by Daniel Singer, who wrote “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).” The troupe has performed at opera houses, theaters and festivals around the world.
“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” is one of the company’s 10 stage shows and its most popular. It set a world record for Longest Running Shakespeare Show after a nine-year run (1996-2005) at London’s West End theatre.
“It’s brilliant,” Reel said of the play. “I remember reading the script for the first time with a couple of buddies who were part of a program at a regional theater. We were crying just reading it. I had to do it. It was just so funny.”
Reel started performing licensed versions of the show in 1992. He joined the Reduced Shakespeare Co. about 10 years ago and has played every role in the three-act play since.
Of all of Shakespeare’s works, he likes “Hamlet” the most.
“It’s probably the best play he wrote and thereby the most fun to make fun of,” he said.
John Lehrack, managing director at Northshore Performing Arts Center, said they booked the comedy troupe because you don’t have to be a Shakespeare fan to enjoy the show.
“We all read Shakespeare in high school, but how many of us have taken part beyond that?” he said. “Shakespeare can be pretty heavy, especially with that language from that time period. They make it digestible and easy.”
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” is showing at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Northshore Performing Arts Center, 18125 92nd Ave. NE, Bothell. The Reduced Shakespeare Co. will perform all 37 plays — although, abridged and revised — in 97 minutes. Tickets are $42 for adults, $35 for seniors and military, and $15 for youth. Call 425-298-3449 or go to www.npacf.org for more information.