I enjoyed reading William Shakespeare’s plays mostly for the fact that many didn’t have a happy ending – they felt entirely believable. Less believable is the fact that the Singapore Repertory Theatre is staging The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a comedy in Singapore that covers all 37 Shakespeare plays in just 97 minutes! Since I’m still trying to wrap my head around how such a short time could be enough for newbies and fans alike to enjoy the Bard and every single one of his plays, I’ve asked the production’s director and the three-person cast to chime in!
A word from the director
37 plays in 97 minutes. That’s 2.6 minutes per play. Is that enough time?
It’s certainly not long to get through the complete works! The plays are summarised and retold as comedy skits, sketches, dances and musical numbers. We also split them into categories to help get through the numbers – there are 10 plays that are considered the Histories and 16 Comedies as well as the more well-known Tragedies. So this helps us cover all 37!
How do you plan on turning tragedies into comedy?
Surprisingly, the Tragedies have been the most hilarious to retell and at least as funny, if not more so, than the Comedies! We’ve had loads of fun discovering ways to stage Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Othello and Hamlet, and the audience are in for an evening of surprises. My amazing cast have brought such great energy, ideas and amusement.
If someone hasn’t read Shakespeare before, what can they expect to learn about his plays after this?
We really wanted to make sure that there is something for everyone in this production, whether you’re familiar with Shakespeare and his plays or not. So despite the seemingly irreverent and comedic nature of the production, it really is a fast-paced romp through all the best bits of the Bard’s plays, and includes a lot of information and insight into William Shakespeare, his life and his writings.
Whether you know and like Shakespeare or whether you’re a complete newbie, there’s something in this comedy show production for you. Our audiences are guaranteed to have an enjoyable, happy and feel-good evening at the theatre, something we all need right now.
A word from the actors
Erwin Shah Ismail (35), Tia Andrea Guttenshohn (25), Shane Madjuki (42)
What’s your favourite Shakespeare play or comedy?
Erwin: Romeo & Juliet because it was my first interaction to Shakespeare’s writing when I was only 15 years old. I also played Mercutio in 2012 with Wild Rice.
Tia: My favourite Shakespeare play remains undecided because I haven’t read them all yet – don’t tell Daniel Jenkins!
Shane: Julius Caesar because there is a character named Clitus in it.
What’s your favourite role in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)?
Erwin: Hamlet because he’s easily the most captivating character whose soliloquies are filled with so much imagery and psychological complexities
Tia: Ophelia because I sorta-kinda get to play her. You’ll know what I mean when you come to watch!
Shane: Clitus because I lobbied hard to play Clitus in SRT’s previous production of Julius Caesar, but I didn’t succeed. So this is a dream – one that I’d given up on – coming to fruition.
How does this production compare to studying Shakespeare or other productions of Shakespeare?
Erwin: The language in Shakespeare is often intimidating. The stories and story-telling in this production have been simplified to make Shakespeare’s works more accessible. When they become accessible, the desire and interest to learn more about them grows!
Tia: This piece has been wonderful because we get to reap the rewards of doing some of Shakespeare’s juiciest bits while mucking about for the most part.
Shane: I didn’t giggle this much during ‘O’ level literature class! Nor have I ever giggled this much rehearsing for a Shakespearian production; or any production at all, to be honest. This play may be the funniest – and funniest comedy show production – I’ve ever been in.
Catch The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) from 30 October to 5 December
London’s longest-running comedy show is an irreverent and fast-paced romp that covers 37 of the Bard’s work in 97 minutes. Presented by the Singapore Repertory Theatre, experience a different side of Shakespeare as Erwin Shah Ismail, Tia Andrea Guttensohn and Shane Mardjuki take audiences through song and dance numbers, mash-ups and more for this comedy show in Singapore.
Performances of this comedy show in Singapore run from 30 October until 5 December at the KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT. Tickets start from $60 and are available at SISTIC outlets or from srt.com.sg.
Written in collaboration with:
Singapore Repertory Theatre
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