Entertainment, Springfield

37 PLAYS / 97 MINUTES

COTTAGE GROVE – A crafty and dysfunctional presentation on the most famous playwright of all time filled Cottage Theatre seats during the opening weekend of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]” on Oct. 13.
During the performance, those in the audience find themselves befriending cast members Blake Nelson, Chelsey Megli and Kory Weimer, as they try to perform every last one of Shakespeare’s works in one stage performance.
The show, directed by Rachel Froom, which was written and brought to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987, is a fast-paced and quick-witted comedy in which three actors are given the mission to bring all 37 of Shakespere’s plays to a stage in one fell swoop.
It’s certainly a challenge for the actors, said Chelsey Megli, of Eugene, who plays Chelsey in the show. The actors scramble to get through a book that “weighs about six pounds,” she said.
“Blake,” played by Blake Nelson of Creswell, leads the pack as a “preeminent scholar in all things Shakespeare.” His extensive knowledge and personal research bring lots of new facts to the audience, some of them comically incorrect. Nelson’s range of characters, accents and a couple of fun saxophone solos brought the audience to their feet and bursting with laughter.
“Kory,” played by Kory Weimer of Cottage Grove, is a character who’s excited to act, but seems a bit skeptical of the world of Shakesperian theatre. He surprises the audience by presenting a monologue that he does like, and killing it, but would rather leave the stage than perform anything from “Hamlet.”
“Chelsey,” portrayed by Chelsey Megli, is the third and final cast member. The only girl in the group, Chelsey’s character tries her best to hold the show, and her cast, together. Driven by her love of Shakespere’s art, she does everything she can to entertain the audience, even if that means performing all by herself. Megli’s portrayal of this character is fun and genuine, which has the audience rooting for her the whole show.
Loaded with hilarious prop comedy, twists and a healthy dose of chaos, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]” brings the audience on a journey of laughter and confusion, all while keeping up with the mission of completing the challenge.
This script gives the audience a lot to do – literally pulling volunteers onstage at some points. This performance is a charming presentation of theatre that allows the audience to be even more involved than they’ve ever been before.
“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]” runs through Oct. 27 at Cottage Theatre. Curtain time is Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. More info: Cottagetheatre.org.