'All the World's a Stage': Sandbox Players Present an Irreverent Take on Shakespeare
One must wonder what the Bard of Avon would think if he were to see The Sandbox Players' presentation of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)."
This fun-loving spoof compresses all 37 of Shakespeare's plays into a show just 97 minutes long and is being performed at Southern Pines' Sunrise Theater for two weekends Feb. 6-15.
The Sandbox Players, the same creative team that presented "Moon Over 8uffalo" for Sandhills audiences last fall, has come up with what reviewers have called a "wildly funny show" and "the funniest show you are likely to see in your entire life."
Producer Don Bridge says "The Complete Wrks of Wllm Shkspr," as the comedy is sometimes designated to, is a Monty Python-type exercise in which three guys get up and try to fake their way through the entire roster of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, all the while running on and off stage, changing their clothes and picking up props along the way.
"One of the three men plays all the women's parts, as was done in Shakespeare's time," Bridge says.
Appearing in "The Complete Works" are Don Bridge, Robbie Gay and Mike Raab. Bridge is well known to Moore County audiences for his performances in several hit comedies, including "Moon Over Buffalo," "Harvey" and "Sylvia."
Robbie Gay was the director of "Moon," and ended up filling in on stage when an actor wasn't able to do the show. He also directed the Moore OnStage production of "Plaid Tidings," was back for Moore OnStage in "42nd Street," and also has appeared in Temple Theatre's recent production of "Hamlet."
A resident of Fuquay-Varina, Mike Raab is active in the Raleigh theater scene. He is on the board of directors of Theatre in the Park, and met Bridge when they both worked on a Raleigh production of "The Robber Bridegroom" last summer. Raab is the founder of a new theater company in Fuquay-Varina, and they recently presented a production of "The Complete History of America (Abridged)."
That show was also written by members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, who are responsible for "The Complete Wrks of Wllm Shkspr." These two shows, and others including "The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)," have been penned by a trio of performers -- Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield -- with assistance from fellow writer-performers, Reed Marin, Austin Tichenor and Jon Weber.
Performances of one or more of these parodies have been presented in theaters worldwide, and there was an American TV production of "The Complete Wrks" a few years ago. The Reduced Shakespeare Company is continuing its extensive touring schedule of the United States and the United Kingdom during 2009.
Robbie Gay, who has done the show previously in California, comments on the fact that the show came out of improvisation, with three men telling stories and creating a whole show wrapped around the Shakespearean experience.
"There are sections that are left open in the script for improvisation and inclusion of timely and local material," Gay says. "We play ourselves, and talk directly to the audience. It can be compared to watching a comedy club free form improv act."
Don Bridge's favorite part of the show is playing the world's oldest Romeo to Mike Raab's Juliet. Another highlight is the presentation of "Othello" as a rap, hip-hop, style song. Bridge and his fellow actors also have fun with the presentation of Shakespeare's historical plays (such as "Henry IV Parts 1 and 2," "Henry V," and "Richard III") as part of a football game. "Hamlet" is presented in the second act, with the actors playing it out more than once, increasing their speed of delivery, and finally, it is done backwards.
Lisa Bridge, who appeared in "Moon Over Buffalo," as well as several Moore OnStage productions, is the show's director.
"I am really just a traffic cop," she says. "The three actors have such an inventive sense of humor and the scenario of the show calls for such wild and fast-paced cavorting around the stage, that primarily my job is to keep a sense of order to the proceedings, however slight that may be."
Scenery that turns the inside of the Sunrise Theatre into a scaled-down version of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre was designed and constructed by Ron Gordon, who also did the set for "Moon Over Buffalo."
In a good illustration of the old saying, "waste not, want not." Gordon has used the pieces of the set for "Moon."
"If you go backstage and walk behind the new set, you think you are back in the 'Moon' dressing room set," says Lisa Bridge.
Costumes that are obviously impressionistic in nature are being borrowed from area theaters and other sources.
"Among the three of us who are appearing on stage, we have some good expertise in backstage elements, such as lighting and sound," says Bridge. "Shannon Dalton is going to be running sound, and Lauren Beecher, doubling as stage manager, is going to be in charge of the lighting."
As far as what the future may bring for The Sandbox Players, Bridge says, "Our steering committee is presently discussing whether to move forward in the 2009-2010 season. Right now, we are still under the umbrella of the Arts Council of Moore County. We hope that with this show, we will be able to spin off from the Arts Council and become a separate entity."
Following the trend of theaters across the nation, which are producing comedies in the wake of depressing economic news, Bridge encourages people who want to have an evening of fun and laughter to see "The Complete Wrks ."
"It is a show for anyone who has ever shied away from sitting through a whole Shakespearean play, with the flowing language and intricate plots," he says. "It is a slam-bang, roll-in-the-aisles comedy."
Tickets are $15 and can be obtained at the door. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays, Feb. 6 and 7, and Feb. 13 and 14, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sundays, Feb. 8 and 15, at 2 p.m. Reservations are not necessary and all tickets are general admission (open seating).
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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