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Theatre Review

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

Newcastle Theatre Company, at its Lambton Theatre.

Ends September 8.

When I checked my notes after the show’s conclusion on opening night, I found the two halves had a total running time of 97 minutes – the length the show’s development and acting trio – Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield – declared it to be.

This showed how well the production team, including director John Ward and actors Beth Aubrey, Jo Cooper and Claire Thomas, have put the work together.

And the audience reactions, with frequent loud laughter and big smiles on the faces of watchers taken on stage to play characters, certainly confirmed that.

Likewise, the interactions of the female acting team, who use their own names when addressing each other between sequences, confirms the timelessness of Shakespeare’s plays, which were written in the age when only men were allowed to perform on stage.

The brisk staging of short scenes from the Bard’s 17 comedies which amusingly show how much repetition there was in these funny works also illustrated how deserving he is to be called the world’s greatest playwright.

And, while most of the second act was a send-up of Hamlet, the way the actors added humour to what is generally a gripping work, reinforced how well he put together a diverse group of characters in a tragedy. Tongue-in-cheek references such as seeing a manly Shakespearean figure as The Bachelor enhanced appreciation of the Bard.