**UPDATE: Sunday’s show will be at 1 pm.**
By Abigail Demke
William Shakespeare wrote approximately 38 plays, and whether you believe it or not, every single one is included (in some way) in Villanova Student Theater’s one and a half hour performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). If 38 plays condensed to under two hours isn’t impressive enough for you, you should know that the sonnets, of which there are 156, are included as well. Sort of. And if that still fails to impress, you should know that there are 1122 roles in all of Shakespeare’s plays, and although those have been cut down to only the most crucial, there are still a substantial number remaining that are played by a total of three cast members.
“Three actors are the whole show; luckily I have three really great people playing those roles and they’re always game… in general this has been a really fun, smooth process,” says Elizabeth Marafino, director of the show. The talent of Ricky Chan, Monique Cummings and Okichie Davis shines through the beautiful poetry and prose written by the famous bard, even in the bro-ified interpretations sometimes used. A line such as “all the admired bitties of Verona” is probably something you never expected to hear, even from a modernized performance of Shakespeare.
With so few actors, and so many roles, tons of props are needed to help signify the changes in character. “It’s all props: we have a rubber chicken, a blowup doll, foam swords, light sabers… it’s pretty intense,” says Marafino. Just how many props are included in the show? According to the prop designer, Anellia Maduro, “a lot.” Marafino was able to clarify that: “too many.”
If you’ve missed a few more of your literature lectures than you care to admit, you have nothing to worry about. VST has your back. “It’s going to be really fun. You actually learn quite a bit in the midst of all the hilarity,” says Davis, who plays a preeminent Shakespearean scholar, among many other roles. She also would like to remind the potential audience that “it’s an ACS event, so you can have fun while you’re doing your homework.”
Overall, the performance is a whirlwind of tragedy, comedy, irreverent reinterpretation, and inappropriate jokes. The show includes shortened versions of Shakespeare’s tragedies, one large mashup of all the comedies performed at once, as well as some explanation of the background story of the three actors putting on the show.
This play will leave you confused, muddled, maybe even slightly violated. Despite this, the show is engaging and very well performed. You are guaranteed to laugh, whether you are a scholar who understands the true Shakespeare that remains, or if you are young at heart (“young at heart” meaning childish enough to laugh at bathroom humor).
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) will be performed in St. Mary’s Auditorium on February 9, 10, and 11 at 8pm with additional matinee shows at 2pm on the 11 and 12. Student tickets cost $7 and adult tickets cost $10.
Other things to look forward to from VST are A Streetcar Named Desire, playing March 27-31. Also there will be a night of One Acts with VST and VSMT (proceeds will go to charity), as well as improv events and a playwriting competition this spring, so there is plenty to look forward to. VST is completely student run and the shows are always very impressive, so definitely look out for more information about the spring season.