The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)

Shakespeare Kelowna 2015 Season presented The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), a hilarious and irreverent comedy.

This was Shakespeare Kelowna’s fourth outdoor summer Shakespeare play at the spectacular Okanagan Villa Estate Winery open air stage in the heart of East Kelowna’s wine country. Performances were held in July.

Some photos above taken by local photographer Tanya Sarah Pauls.


The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) originally premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987 and featured three overachieving actors attempting to perform all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 90 minutes. Fast-paced, witty, and physical, it’s an evening of laughter for Shakespeare lovers, haters, and everyone in between.

After a suitably pompous literary introduction, Act One launches into a highly condensed version of Romeo and Juliet, followed by modern interpretations of Titus Andronicus and Othello. Next up is a mash-up in which all 16 comedies are performed at once. The pace doesn’t slow down as they move on to the Tragedies and Histories. Just when they think they have completed the challenge of performing all 37 plays, they realize they are short by one play – Hamlet. And it’s on to Act Two.

This is not your Grandmother’s evening of Shakespeare!

Director’s Notes

Hamlet: Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, and hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature.

Last summer I sat at the Vibrant Vine and experienced the magic of seeing Shakespeare alfresco. The uniqueness of the setting and the quality and creativity of the Shakespeare Kelowna performance helped me confirm what I already knew – that Shakespeare Kelowna and the Vibrant Vine are a perfect fit for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).

When I first discovered this play, I realized that it addressed a sentiment often expressed by students and the public about Shakespeare – why the heck are these plays so hard to understand? And, given the perceived difficulty in comprehending storylines and dialogue – why are they still being studied and staged?

While the main challenge of this play is staging all 37 plays in just over 90 minutes – what’s left when the distillation is finished is pure entertainment with timeless themes and surprisingly relatable characters. The 3 actors who help us navigate the show represent different views on Shakespeare – from the academic expert through to the person bored by the very thought of having to study Shakespeare in school. Through their eyes, my hope is that the audience confirms or discovers a love for the bard. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this whirlwind journey is highly entertaining, laugh-out-loud hilarious, and in no way educational! And, despite the fact that in my day job I’m a high school theatre teacher –  the play will NOT be followed by a multiple choice test or essay question.

– Anne-Marie Holmwood –