Performers Alexander Lloyd, Jake Crawford and Claire Vandali reading Shakespeare

Slay Theatre is taking on the seemingly impossible task of condensing 37 of William Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets into an action packed 97-minute performance. Heather Bloom chats to cast of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Alexander Lloyd, Jake Crawford and Claire Vandali ahead of their opening night.

So, 37 plays plus sonnets, 33 characters and 97 minutes. Firstly, how?
Sheer willpower. The script, written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Wingfield offers many unique ways to explore Shakespeare's plays, some more comprehensively and authentically, and some in a more entertaining way.

Secondly, why?
We all love Shakespeare but understand his work can be perceived as somewhat highbrow. We wanted to put on a show that emphasises how funny (and lowbrow) Shakespeare was at times and make his writing more accessible. When we first came together to read The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), we were also struck with just how fun it was, and how it irreverently explored not only the great parts of Shakespeare, but also the parts that are outdated, problematic, or just plain stupid.

What can audiences expect?
What can they NOT expect!? We've got sketch comedy, sword fights, a rap, AFL, and even a dinosaur!  Importantly, they should expect a genuine attempt by three Shakespeare nerds at tackling the massive (nigh impossible) task of performing all of Shakespeare's plays.

Do you need to have knowledge of Shakespeare and his work to attend this show?
Absolutely not! One of the reasons we love the play is that it is accessible to everyone. If you know some of Shakespeare's work, there are definitely a few deep cut jokes that you'll get. But if you don't, this play is genuinely such a great introduction to his work.

What's the most difficult aspect of performing this show?
COSTUME. CHANGES. Claire plays twenty-something characters, I play about 16, Alex the rest. There are so many costumes and props, and it never stops. We have entire costumes that have been made for us that are on stage for less than 10 seconds.

Alex: Keeping a straight face. Jake and Claire are so funny I struggle to keep it together most rehearsals.

Claire: Changing characters in split seconds.

What's the best part about performing this show?
The cast and crew are made up of some of my favourite people on the planet so that's pretty cool. It's such a great feeling stepping on to stage and having 100% trust in the people beside you.

Alex: I'm with Jake on this. Plus, our team and the play afford us the freedom to go full bent with an impulse and follow it through, which is an absolute pleasure to play with.

Claire: The energy of the show is infectious, you can't help but laugh along the crazy journey.

Are you speaking in Elizabethan English or is it modernised?
Both! There are some entire scenes from Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet that are lifted straight from the original text, but I think about 60-70% of the play is in modern English. This play is a melting pot designed to be very easy to follow, even for a complete beginner. And if you're a Shakespeare aficionado you might even picketh up something extra.

What's your personal favourite Shakespeare play or character (and did they make the cut in this version?).
Ooh this is so so tricky. I'm lucky enough to get to play Macbeth in my full-time job so he is definitely a favourite - there is an endless amount of depth to that character. A dream role though is Marc Anthony in Julius Caesar (they both made the cut!)

Alex: It's gotta be Hamlet for me. There is a chance I make a small appearance on stage as the moody Dane in this version...

Claire: A Midsummer Night's Dream is my personal fave and technically it makes the cut, as they all do, but you'll just have to keep a close eye out for those references.

Audiences can enjoy this madcap Shakespearian adventure from the 10 – 11 May at the 16th Street Actors Studio in Caulfield.

For more information and to book tickets, head to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite


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