JJ Gatesman and Jillian Smith in “The Complete
Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)” at the Waukesha
a hoot! Whether you’re a Shakespeare fan or not,
you’ve probably been exposed to some of his famous
plays during your high school English classes.
Waukesha Civic’s creative take on The Bard, you’ll
find yourself re-introduced to his genius and fully
entertained by the abandon and skill of the three actors
that take on this irreverent and speedy journey through
37 of his works.
they spend the most time on “Romeo and Juliet” and
“Hamlet,” they manage to touch upon
many of the dramatic devices and recurring themes
that characterize his plays. Lots of dead bodies
around, to be sure.
three playwrights - Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess
Winfield - have also written several other successful
parodies, including one of the Bible (one that caused
quite the dramatic protest in Delafield several years
ago). All their works are strong, irreverent but
show is a mix of narration, acting and audience
the show progresses, one can feel the growing interest
and involvement of the participants on and off stage. In
the 1960s we referred to such events as
amount of energy and ingenuity expended by these three
actors is nothing short of amazing.
Nickolas Callan Haubner, JJ Gatesman and Jillian
Smith are all pros and handle themselves with aplomb in
all instances. Haubner has become a ubiquitous presence
in many local theaters, a very welcome one I might add;
the other two, less so, but I’d certainly enjoy seeing
being able to master Shakespeare’s lines, all three
are also adept at improvisation, which they interject at
will, making references to current affairs and local
a rap version of “Othello” and using a football game
as a metaphor for the history plays, using a crown for
the football is quite ingenious, as is replicating
“Titus Andronicus” as a cooking show.
of the funniest audience participation stunts involved a
Freudian analysis of Ophelia, in which we were divided
into the id, the ego the superego and the unconscious.
Another clever ruse is having Haubner and
Gatesman run off, stranding Smith with trying to share
Shakespeare’s sonnets - all
154 of them condensed on a 3 x 5 card - to keep
the audience occupied until they return.
are so many funny moments, it is impossible to cite them
all, but one contrasting surprise was JJ Gatesman’s
delivery of the famous soliloquy, “What a Piece of
Work Is Man,” which made us realize again that despite
being the butt of many a joke, Shakespeare was a genius,
and the breadth and depth of his work will never be
also were treated to the fact that actor Gatesman,
besides being a terrific comic, could be a serious
Bravo to all three actors and their many gifts.
costumer (Dana Brzezinski) and property designer (Keith
Handy) were kept busy with all the required, rapid
changes, and director Dustin J. Martin certainly met his
challenging task, and I suspect had lots of fun doing
tempted to go again because I’m sure that no two
performances will be the same with this rather loose
show and very versatile actors.
AT A GLANCE
Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged”
play runs through Feb. 18 at the Waukesha Civic Theatre,
264 W. Main St., Waukesha. Call 262-547-0708 or visit