Theatre Ancaster breaks open the season this year with its first non–musical show. With great success, they present The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) directed by Krista Cranston and originally co–written by Adam Long, Daniel Sing and Jess Winfield of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. This production premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987, played for a record breaking nine years at the Criterion Theatre in London, and is the undisputed world record holder for the shortest Hamlet. In terms of energy and spirit, this show is as close to a musical as you can get without actual music. The choreography alone is a feat. Cast and crew at Ancaster, meet and exceed the needs of this improv style, physical comedy.
To begin, the ensemble of Krista Cranston, Sam Frisk, and Nathan Hicks is a quality threesome that keeps the pace and the audience on its toes. They never take a breather, and that’s exactly what a show like this needs. As soon as Cranston begins to speak, her training and skill is evident with probably the best diction I’ve ever heard on stage. This may seem like a small point, but let’s face it: you can’t enjoy a show if you don’t know what the performers are saying. This show moves so fast that if the audience is expected to keep up with the laughs, references, and dialects then a professional knows the first thing to consider is audibility. Taking the baton from there, Sam Frisk and Nathan Hicks continue the chain of excellence with strong individual and collective performances. Because they’ve established their strength as an ensemble, the audience feels they can let go and join in the chaos and hilarity. As a spectator, this is a great place to be: pure relaxed entertainment. Some performance highlights include Sam Frisk’s variety of Shakespearean women and his interpretation of drowning backwards; Nathan Hicks’ velveteen shorts; and Krista Cranston’s wet nurse. In a cameo performance, mention must be made of Dorothy, the most compliant and pleasant audience target ever known to theatre. Her great scream was heard for blocks as she became the central focus of Ophelia’s inner turmoil.
Finally, it would be an understatement to say that this was a props heavy production. No one is listed in the program in this capacity, so I’m assuming it was a group effort. The props were so good that they occasionally had laughs of their own. Theatre Ancaster has a hit on its hands with this production. On its second night with a relatively small audience, it was already rocking the house. By the final weekend, this show is going to blow the roof off with its quirky humour and hard working, talented cast. Book your tickets now and sit back and enjoy the experience! Congratulations to Ancaster on their first non–musical success. V
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED)
Presented by Theatre Ancaster
September 28 and 29 at 8:00 p.m.
The Old Firehall Arts Centre,
334 Wilson Street East, Ancaster
tix: (905) 304–8863