I am not a typical fan of Shakespeare.
Actually, I’m not a fan at all.
I understand why people enjoy his work, and I can respect that, but Shakespeare was never my cup of tea.
When I heard Sierra Classic Theatre was presenting “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)(revised)” in Mammoth Lakes, I knew I had go see what all the hype was about.
I’ve heard good things about the play before. Critics and reviewers billed the play as a show for Shakespeare lovers and especially for Shakespeare haters.
For those of you who missed out and have no idea what this play is about, in a nutshell, the show takes all 37 works of Shakespeare and presents them in shortened form with a handful of actors.
This loosely patched series of parodies is a malleable piece of lunacy that leaves plenty of room for improvisation and adaptation, making each performance a little different.
Director Craig Sterling called the production—his first one directing—“a labor of love.”
“I really didn’t fully understand how much went into directing a play,” Sterling said. “I had to first choose a script, then re-work the script quite a bit, and then cast the roles.
“Once you had your cast, there was still a lot of reworking of the script that had to be done to work with the cast you have. In the end, I was very proud of our production and the cast.”
In addition to Sterling, who did a little acting himself, four more Mammoth locals—Madeline Roy, Pricilla Toledo, Kevin Green, and Sabrina Clevenger—acted, commented, sang, and not only entertained their audiences, but also made them participate in the most hilarious production of “Hamlet” I had ever seen.
Sterling revised the original play to suit Mammoth Lakes and each actor incorporated real-life characteristics into their roles, giving the entire performance a natural and light-hearted touch.
Highlights included reciting the story of Othello as a rap song, all of Shakespeare’s histories acted out through an American football game, and Green pretend-puking on audience members sitting in the front row (and also stealing puking scenes from other characters every chance he got).
After about two hours of diaphragmatic convulsing over absurd Shakespeare, I went home with newfound appreciation for the dead guy.
“Shakespeare was an incredibly gifted writer,” Sterling said. “It is amazing how much he is quoted or how many of our ‘sayings’ are derived from [him]. Most people would be surprised how much Shakespeare they really know.”
When asked if Sterling would continue directing, he said “definitely.”
“I am already working on the next script.”