★★★★★ - Irresistible
It’s not seasonally themed, but Las Vegas Little Theatre (LVLT) is offering up a holiday treat in the Fischer Black Box: “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play, (abridged)” by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor.
It’s a mash-up of every play Shakespeare wrote and includes darn near every character you’re familiar with and some you may not recognize. The premise is like finding a playwright’s journal where simple ideas have been jotted down and deciding to present them as a single production. Here, it’s all tied together by having Puck and Ariel in the same play, feuding over characters and plot.
Any presentation of the Bard’s work is easily understandable if done well. But you don’t have to be a Shakespeare scholar to enjoy this play. In fact, quite the opposite.
As directed by David (Lep) Morey, this fast-paced piece will keep you engaged and laughing. He’s made excellent use of the entire space and has a fine collaborative cast in Kate Sirls, Marcus Martinez, and Chris Velho. All three are very comfortable on the stage, that close to an audience, and having tons of fun. The pace is frenetic and they move from character to character, play to play with ease. And, they obviously know their Shakespeare.
But, it’s a comedy so even the tragedy is funny. There are the usual bad puns well delivered. There are references to modern things. There are spots of improvisation to audience reaction. For instance, King Lear is leaving the stage, breaks wind and makes a comment. The audience groaned, and Martinez didn’t blink before breaking the fourth wall and tossing out, “Oh, come on, it’s a matinee. You get it.” And the audience laughed its approval.
There’s so much happening it's impossible to pick out any particular details. The acting is superb, the direction succinct. The production values spot on.
Chris Davies designed a beautiful set; brightly painted, tri-sided units which add to both the fun and the function. Under the lighting of Raphael Daniels-Devost, the colors change in intensity to carry us along on the ride. Add in Cooper Jones’ sound design, and execution of the same by Sammie Gonzalez, who. kept up with the action, and put Jones on the light board—well, they’d have to be geniuses, or octopi; maybe both. If a cue was missed, it sure wasn’t noticeable.
The theatre community hasn’t had this much fun with the Bard since the production of “The Compleat Works of Wllm. Shkspr (abridged)” a number of years ago. Give yourself a present this holiday season and see this. As one line of dialogue says, “Keep up if you can!” Even if you don’t, you’ll have fun.
Now I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. This ensemble of actors, designers, and this director could easily pull off a play I’ve long wanted to see performed: “Stand-up Shakespeare.” Maybe they’d sign up with LVLT to do that one next season.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday - Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday through Dec 22
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre-Fischer Black Box, 3920 Schiff drive
Tickets: $20 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: David (Lep) Morey; Set Design: Chris Davies; Lighting Design: Raphael Daniels-Devost; Sound Design: Cooper Jones; Costume Design: Loryanna Michalek; Stage Manager: Sammie Gonzalez