Players Perform The Bard’s Greatest Hits in “The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged”

by TAYLOR OSLACKY, Contributor

On Friday, Feb. 8 and Saturday, Feb. 9, the Manhattan College Players performed “The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged,” a humorous and incredibly entertaining compilation of the famous playwright’s work.

The play started with the entire cast on stage to introduce the show’s contents. The cast brings light to Shakespeare’s 37 plays, that would be covered in the hour-and-a-half play.

“The show is everything Shakespeare wrote condensed down into an hour and a half. It’s all the erotic jokes and cross-dressing with none of the difficult language or need for literary analysis,” said sophomore Camryn Kidney, who co-directed the play along with junior Katharine Scheid.

Although the play is a mix of genres, the show is written to be a comedy all around, especially with the help of the directors’ creativity.

“It is funny, the script is hilarious. Our actors are very witty and fun and there’s lots of material that they made up or that we made up and altogether the show comes together with a myriad of timeless jokes, relevant material and overall hilarity,” said Kidney.

The play was designed to be entertaining for people with varying levels of familiarity with Shakespeare’s work.

“It’s funny for people who don’t even fully understand Shakespeare,” Scheid said.

After the introduction, the first play revamped was “Romeo and Juliet.” Max Toder, who played Romeo, swept Peter Martino away, who was dressed in a floor-length dress and blonde wig as Juliet.

Following “Romeo and Juliet,” “Titus Andronicus” was presented as a cooking show complete with a children’s kitchen set. Titus Andronicus (Joel Sanson) was the enthusiastic host of the cooking show with his daughter (Alyssa DeRosa) demonstrated how to properly dismember the rapist character (Paul Fucao).

“Othello” was converted into a rap for an interesting a unique take of the play. Alyssa DeRosa, Isabelle Campbell and Alyssa Zduniak told the plot of the tragic love story.

Then the cast ran onto the stage with puppets to combine Shakespeare’s comedies. Each cast member had a white sock puppet that represented a character from a comedy. The puppet show included “Twelfth Night,” “All’s Well That Ends Well” and the rest of the comedies.

Following the comedies were the tragedies and histories of “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” and “Troilus and Cressida.” This part of the show included a golf club fight, interpretative dance and a football game.

The end of the show was the tragedy of “Hamlet”. After chasing throughout the theater over one the actor’s (Matt Blackwood) reluctance to perform the play, the cast came together for the last work after intermission. With time remaining, the cast then did the same scene faster and then backwards.

Before rehearsals started, the directors adopted the whole play in order for the play to be more inclusive.

“The play was written for three people but we made it into a cast of twelve. The cast size was broken up for more people,” said Scheid.

When asked about other challenges of the play, Scheid said there were several edits to the script. Certain lines that were considered too offensive were removed or replaced with other lines and jokes were implemented to connect with the generation and the Manhattan College community.

Martino is a junior who has been involved in many productions with MC Players. The actor plays himself, Juliet in the “Romeo and Juliet” scene and Hamlet’s Father’s Ghost in the “Hamlet” portion.

Martino said that his favorite part of the show is the easygoing atmosphere.

“I don’t have to do a lot of acting, I can just be goofy and it works.”

The play was hilarious and the actors’ hard work paid off.

Kidney said, “The actors have spent months memorizing line sand honing in on their improv skills. I couldn’t be happier with the results.”