UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

REVIEW: Clear Creek Community Theatre performs 37 Shakespeare plays in less than two hours

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“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised]” is a play written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield that parodies the plays of William Shakespeare. Three performers are challenged to showcase all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in an hour and thirty minutes. The play is being performed by Clear Creek Community Theatre at their theater in Webster.

This concept intrigued me as I could not begin to imagine how a full-blown play like “Romeo and Juliet” could be brought down to ten minutes or less. Even at ten minutes each, 37 plays would still take more than six hours to complete.

As I walked into the theater, I was welcomed by a strong scent of old furniture and cigarettes. The atmosphere seemed to invite an older crowd and, to tell the truth, did not make much of a first impression. The lady working the box office, however, was awfully sweet and quick to hand me a pair of tickets. The entrance had a small concession area, but I was more eager to see the stage set-up and the play I had shown up for. Nevertheless, I sat down and waited for the show to commence.

The set was perhaps a third of the size of a regular high school auditorium. There were approximately 35 guests in the audience, meaning it was a little less than half full. The age group ranged from 45-70-year olds, which matched the initial feeling I grasped when I first walked in the theater. As this was my first time visiting a performance by the Clear Creek Community Theatre, I am not completely sure if this is their typical audience.  It may have been the fact that the play that was being performed did not appeal to a younger crowd.

All 37 of William Shakespeare’s plays are performed at Clear Creek Community Theatre in less than two hours. Image credits to the Clear Creek Community Theatre.
All 37 of William Shakespeare’s plays are performed at Clear Creek Community Theatre in less than two hours. Image credits to the Clear Creek Community Theatre.

Before the play began, a gentleman stepped on stage and made some housekeeping announcements. This was part of the pre-show performance. He then used that intro to invite the crowd to join in some icebreaking exercises. We were asked about our Shakespeare knowledge, and to be honest, mine is slim to none, so I was not the best participant. There was, however, a man who was able to answer some questions and share some trivia with the rest of the crowd. This was very enlightening to watch as it gave us all a background to enjoy the show.

Three male performers, Billy Chmielewski, Matthew Phillips and Zach Scabora, came on stage and opened the show with the popular “Romeo and Juliet.” Then they followed with a couple more popular plays. “Titus Andronicus” was performed as a cooking show and all of the histories were played like a football game. Although most everything they performed was tragedies, and all the comedies were combined into one skit, they managed to keep the audience guessing as to what we were going to laugh about next. The actors kept us on our toes with small stunts and adult humor that made the skits a bit more relatable.

Throughout the evening, there were a lot of plays mentioned, most of which I do not recall ever hearing about in high school. The actors made sure each play was summarized even if they were minimal in length.

My favorite skit was definitely the cooking show. It was really funny, especially because the actors had us in the audience “taste” what they were cooking as the chefs do in cooking shows. The puns that were used were particularly witty and kept us all laughing the entire time.

Something I really appreciated was the amount of involvement there was by the audience. The ratio of viewing to participation was a solid 3 to 5, and it made the show even more enjoyable to me because we were doing more than just watching the actors perform.

Even if you are not normally a fan of the performing arts, I encourage you to go see this production. Its modern comedy approach adds wit to the typical Shakespeare standards. The performance will definitely get a chuckle or two out of you before you leave the theater. As for my fellow college students, I think this performance will leave you with a greater appreciation or understanding of the bard.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” [revised] performances at Clear Creek Community Theatre continue through April 22 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now online or by calling 281-335-5228 for reservations. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors with group rates available.