An enthusiast’s view of America’s Original Seaside Resort… by Meghan Kunz
I had the pleasure of seeing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at the Cape May Stage on Saturday with my husband, following an impromptu decision while strolling through Washington Street Mall. I remembered that tickets could be purchased from the information booth across from Our Lady Star of the Sea and we decided to check out the availability. Oddly enough, there were only two tickets left. After strolling over to Dog Days of Cape May, we took the plunge and bought the tickets.
The night had its usual, predictable path. Dinner and drinks at the Mad Batter (pork tenderloin and crab cakes), shopping, enjoying the crisp, autumn air… all a precursor to what ended up being a fabulous event. Although we had tickets, we arrived appropriately early (7:20pm) and huddled outside the playhouse door. Although there was the brief annoyance of being cut in line under the premise of “Gosh, it’s cold. Let’s see if the door is open. Look at that! It is open. Let’s just cut this couple who has been standing here for 15 minutes. Surely, they won’t mind.” For the record, cutting in any line is a pet peeve of mine. I’m from the traditional mindset of “Wait your turn.”
In the end, the line-cutters served a very pleasing purpose — they allowed us to get second-row aisle seats. We were ushered into the impeccable theater and eased into the comfortable seating. We were both unsure what to expect. We’ve had our fair share of exposure to various forms of Shakespeare (I myself love the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo & Juliet). The house lights dimmed, and the show started.
The play condenses 37 plays and 154 sonnets into a two-hour event, during which the audience spent most of its time managing bursts of uncontrollable laughter. The culprits of this outpour of emotion? Three of the best stage actors I’ve ever seen — Mark Irish, Jake Paque, and David Schmittou. The play took serious, dramatic dialogue and recreated hysterical antics. Shakespeare’s most notable comedies were even funnier. Just when we thought the unthinkable was accomplished, the actors performed Hamlet in reverse. That is… reverse dialogue and motion. Brilliant! I also loved how after the show, the actors immediately greeted the audience.
This play is a phenomenal way to spend two hours on a Thursday-Sunday evening or Saturday and Sunday afternoon through November 20. The amazing talent and smart dialogue are refreshing and entertaining, and you will be discussing this show long after the curtain has closed.