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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Laberge

It's Shakespeare...ish - WCT

It's insanity. It's football, and vomit, and kilts, and puppets. It's forwards, and backwards, and inside out. It's William Shakespeare.

Waukesha Civic Theatre is taking on The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), where three performers tackle all 37 of the Bard's plays in a mere 97 minutes. And, to say the least, it's a whirlwind.

The company fits seamlessly together. Jillian Smith brings something fresh to each of her characters throughout the performance, from her angst-ridden Romeo to her Hillary Clinton reminiscent Julius Caesar.

Nicholas Callan Haubner drives the pace of the play, as the "preeminent Shakespeare scholar" onstage. Haubner deftly leads patrons through the organized chaos of the complete works.

JJ Gatesman, as the third performer, is juvenile in the best possible way. A grown man chanting "butt-love!" earns a whole slew of laughter, and (as Gatesman somehow always ends up as the woeful woman) it's always a joy when the wigs come out.

Dustin Martin's direction on the piece is so well-paced and organic, audiences can't help but wonder if any of the play is scripted at all. Despite the usual challenges of panto theatre, where volunteers are hesitant to join in the fun, this theatrical thrill never misses a beat. The company is warm and welcoming from start to finish. It's a shared experience.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is a runaway train, and theatergoers are along for the ride. This is no Wars of the Roses. This is SNL on steroids. This is Drunk History on Shakespeare. It doesn't matter if you're a 'preeminent Shakespeare scholar' yourself, or if you're brand new to the Bard; to go or not to go shouldn't even be a question.

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