The thought of attending a show featuring every play by William Shakespeare is a questionable prospect, to say the least. However, Meridian High School’s performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised] is anything but. It ran for nine years on the West End, performed by only three actors. The show takes the audience through all the chaos imaginable when an acting troupe attempts to perform all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in the span of 97 minutes. In order to fit all the plays in such a short amount of time it performs every comedy Shakespeare wrote at the same time, performs Othello as a rap, depicts the histories as a football game, and so much more.
Given that Meridian High School divided the original intended three-person cast into a thirty-person ensemble, it was difficult to pinpoint the leading and supporting actors. That being said, several performances clearly stood out. Drew Miller took on the role of Hamlet, who appeared on stage for most of Act II. His dynamic physicality kept the audience captivated through four performances of the same “Hamlet” scene (including one rendition done backwards), never losing energy even when leaping off the stage and running through the auditorium. It should also be noted that Miller spent much of Act I on rollerblades and did not waver once.
In addition, Emma Hart put on an unforgettable performance as Romeo, sauntering across the stage with a flirty, confident air that conveyed exactly who the character was and exactly what he wanted with Juliet. Matthew Bloss-Baum, a third actor deserving of praise, carried an undeniable charisma as the first narrator and set the scene for all the hilarity to come. All the actors handled the play’s complete lack of a fourth wall remarkably well, speaking directly to the audience with the expertise of professionals.
An element that elevated this show to its true success were the technical features. As opposed to a set, Meridian utilized delightfully campy projections to build the scenes of Shakespeare’s various works, a decision which perfectly lent itself to the fast-changing nature of the show. Costumes were simplistic but very effective, and the choice to mainly have the actors in costume tops paired with leggings and Converse shoes helped to add to the show’s more casual, intimate, black box theatre feeling. Sound design, led by Wenndy Sejas, was intricate and deliberate, using cleverly timed sound effects to amplify the cartoony, larger than life aspects.
All in all, the crown jewel of Meridian’s “Complete Works” lay in the commitment from everyone involved. Between the audience participation, intricate blocking, and lightning-fast pace, this is a show that wouldn’t function without every cast and crew member being 100% devoted to the absurdity of the play. Each actor was wholly immersed in their part, not even hesitating to roll off the stage, lift someone up onto their shoulders, or participate in an interpretive dance version of “Troilus and Cressida.” From these factors and more, it’s certainly safe to say that anybody, whether they be a dedicated patron of The Bard or simply someone looking for a romp of a good time, would find their perfect show in Meridian High School’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised].