Two quick trips through the classics

For the Tidings

Sometimes, funny things come in pairs. "The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged)" has just opened at Oregon Stage Works in Ashland, and "Durang Durang" opens Saturday, July 21. The two comedies will run in repertory at OSW through the summer.

Each play is a collection of theater parody skits. "Compleat Works" takes on the Bard of Avon, while "Durang" finds its targets in the work of Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard and other icons of theater and culture.

"Compleat Works" is a fast-paced collection of skits described by its director as "comedy seen through the eyes of Shakespeare and the lens of Monty Python."

Just don't blink, or you might miss, say, half of "Antony and Cleopatra."

Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Borgeson along with one William Shakespeare, the play promises to take audiences through an irreverent take on just what the title says in about 90 minutes.

"In a good night," director Dennis Klein says in a press release, "it might even be less.

"We're going to save you lots of time and money."

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, for example, takes 20 years or so to present all the plays attributed to Shakespeare. Imagine for starters all the comedies combined into one sketch, "The Comedy of Two Well-Measured Gentlemen Lost in the Merry Wives of Venice on a Midsummer's Twelfth Night in Winter."

Then it's on to tragedy. Think of the history plays done as a football game. Think of "Hamlet" fast &

and backward.

But don't think too hard.

"This play has absolutely no redeeming social value," Klein says. "Its only purpose is fun."

That is, you don't need to be a Shakespeare authority to get it.

Similarly, you don't need to know Tennessee Williams forward and backward to laugh at Christopher Durang's cheeky "For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls." In this skit, Williams's Laura is replaced by dim bulb Lawrence, who collects not figurines but glass cocktail sticks.

The Shepard sketch, "A Stye of the Eye," based on the playwright's "A Lie of the Mind," finds actors playing white trash characters involved in incestuous relationships and peppering the audience with exaggerations of Shepard's cynicism.

Nor is Durang above poking fun at himself and his world. "Business Lunch at the Russian Tea Room" serves up as an idea for a movie a love story about a priest and a rabbi who fall in love.

Just three actors play all the parts in "Compleat Works" &

Ty Boice, Jamison Chaleen and Hardy Pinell. Chaleen has acted in several recent productions at both OSW and Camelot Theatre. Boice was in OSW's "Elephant Man" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." Hardy is a recent SOU graduate who has appeared in ensemble parts in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

Set design is by Doug Ham, lights are by Phil Shaw and sound is by Dennis Klein and Lisa Marie Wingbermuehle.

"Compleat Works" plays at 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 8; then it switches to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 8.

Klein says both plays are funny, but the two are even funnier back to back.

"Durang Durang," is directed by Barbara Segal with lighting design by Phil Shaw. Cast members are Sarah Foster, Ruby Henrie, Barbara C. Rosen, Merrill Smith, Tamara Hoffman, Sam King, Priscilla Quinby, and Jim Bowen.

"Durang Durang" previews at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 19 and 20, opens at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 21, and runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays through Aug. 4; it runs at 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesdays and 2 p.m. Sundays from Aug. 12 to Sept. 10. Shows switch to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday Sept. 12 to 15.

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