By Paul Kiely
William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged)
Directed by Tom Massey
A Genesian Theatre Production
The Genesian Theatre
415-431 Kent Street
Season: 16 January – 13 February 2021. Duration: 75 minutes plus 15-minute Bookings: www.genesiantheatre.com.au
Well, we have all had to wait a long time, but finally a new play from William Shakespeare is presently being performed at Sydney’s Genesian Theatre.
A manuscript from the greatest English playwright of all time has been unearthed from a carpark in Leicester and acts as a prequel to many of his famous lifetime literary works.
Whether you are a fan of Shakespeare’s plays or not, this ingenious piece of theatre is comical and spellbinding. In reality, William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) is a modern-day spoof of his plays, created by Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin.
The three actors (Casey Martin, Paris Change and Riley Lewis) begin by explaining the nature of the newly found manuscript. Written by a pimply 17-year-old Shakespeare, it has more than 100 hours of stage production time and contains many known characters and monologues. There is too much material, so the three ‘producers’ set out to cut it down to a more user-friendly, 90-minute show.
The way they do it is hilarious. Using narration and accelerated costume-changes, the characters of Shakespeare we all grew up with come alive. Some monologues are word-perfect whilst others demonstrate the bard’s immaturity at 17. For example, “A whore, a whore, my kingdom for a whore” was later watered down in Richard III.
Many familiar characters are portrayed: Lady Macbeth, Puck, Juliet, Romeo, Cleopatra, Ariel, Cordelia, Viola and even Richard III who plays a ukulele and sings.
There is a clever comparison between Shakespeare’s works and Walt Disney’s animated films, with special mention of Ariel (The Little Mermaid) and Hamlet (The Lion King). So many similarities in fact that “Stratford-upon-Avon should be called Shakespeareland”.
With a witty script, lots of innuendo, double-meanings, nonsense and mayhem, the completed performance is a compliment to Director Tom Massey. The actors are impressive, being a delightful blend of youth, enthusiasm and passion for literature.
William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) is a comic masterpiece; something which even William himself would have been proud to have claimed credit for.
I can recommend this production. A worthy tribute to the genius of William Shakespeare.