The Compleat Works on The Cape

Saw The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at a community theatre here on the Cape. I’ve heard of this play but never seen it. It’s delightful. Sooz’s brother was one of the three actors. He performs in upwards of three or four shows a year, while struggling to make ends meet as a landscaper and painter. I have seen him in Feydeau and Miller, and he is certainly talented. I would call him a fixture in Cape Cod community theatre.

Last night’s theatre is a converted town hall on the top of a hill. In what was once the meeting hall on the second floor, a 175 seat ¾ stage has been built. The Sunday night show we attended was at about 25% capacity. We roared with laughter. This play is custom made for the virtues of community theatre: fast paced romping, with just enough smarts to elevate it above Benny Hill, and with copious actor-audience relationship.

Sitting there enjoying it all, I thought of Stanislavsky, who even as he was developing the way of working that would inform western actor training for generations, would still retire to the outdoor gardens of Moscow to delight in a circus, melodrama or Russian vaudeville. We think of him as this super-serious, high-brow teacher. But he enjoyed a good clown as much as we did that night on the Cape. I also imagined a great perch swinging above me over the audience. It is the judgment perch from which the words “good” and “bad” can be uttered by great black-clad birds, carping away in solitary chirping disapproval. But I was glad to be down among the people, in a joyful communion of willing relationship.

During the announcements before the show, the actor told us not to miss the “actor box” on the way out. It’s the box where audience place donations for the actors, who of course are playing for free (the norm in community theatre). On our way out, Sooz and I were engrossed talking about the show, and looking at the photos of other productions there, and we forgot to make a donation. I will be back to today to make remedy.