BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — “Titus Andronicus” as a cooking show, “Othello” as a rap song, “Hamlet” as speed theater.
It’s all part of “The Complete Wrks of Wllm Shakspr (Abridged),” a high-energy romp through all 37 of the bard’s plays — in as little as an hour.
“To quote Polonius, ‘Brevity is the soul of wit,’” said Linda Osborn, who directs the professional theater company Parallel 45 in a production of the play Dec. 21 at InsideOut Gallery. “Sometimes you want to curl up with a four-hour ‘Hamlet’ and sometimes you want to get to the meat and potatoes.”
The one-time performance is part of the company’s holiday fundraising party called Green Room Romp. It stars local actors Ben Whiting and Noah Durham Fried, and Pittsburgh’s Sadie Grossman. Whiting and Grossman are co-founders of the four-year-old Traverse City-based acting company, which prides itself on staging innovative new works, reinvented classics and imaginative adaptations.
Osborn said the parody of Shakespeare’s plays is a light way to round out this year’s season, which included summer and fall productions of the Shakespeare adaptations “Shakespeare’s R&J” and “The Shrew.” It’s also the antithesis of plays she helps put on as production stage manager for Interlochen Arts Camp’s summer Shakespeare Festival, though Shakespeare fans will recognize parts of their favorite comedies, tragedies and histories.
“Every play is mentioned,” said Osborn, a professional theater practitioner who also assists with area school drama programs and productions. “You’ll hear lines from all of them in one form or another, but it might not be in the recognizable form you’re used to. It’s very much an improvisational feel.”
She said Parallel 45’s production is a “revised revision of a revised revision” of the long-running comedy written by former founding members of London’s Reduced Shakespeare Company. It features gender play, audience interaction and nods to the Grand Traverse region, “all with the goal of making Shakespeare accessible.”
In a break from tradition, the production will be staged in InsideOut’s gallery space instead of the adjoining theater space, in order to be “part of the party,” said Parallel 45 marketing director Jordan Anderson.
“Everybody takes a seat comfortably in the gallery and we perform in the round. It’s sort of a cousin of dinner theater,” he said.
The holiday fundraising party — named the Green Room Romp in reference to the gallery space, which the company jokingly refers to as its green room — also will feature pre- and post-show performances by vocalist Miriam Pico, hors d’oeuvres from former Tapawingo chef/owner Pete Peterson’s Food Inc. catering services, a hosted drink and a cash bar, and goodie bags stuffed with local treats. Audiences also will have a chance to win prizes.
“What’s that old joke — there was a fight and a hockey game broke out? It’s a party and a production broke out of it,” Osborn said.
Tickets are $50 at www.parallel45.org. Proceeds will support the company’s fifth anniversary season.