The year was 1995. William Jefferson Clinton was in the White House, Coolio was rapping about a "Gangsta's Paradise" and the latest movie heartthrob was a little pig named "Babe." Meanwhile, at the downstairs space of Off-Broadway's Westside Theatre, a zany comedy called The Compleat Wks of Wllm Shksper proved a hit with audiences who wanted to see all of Shakespeare's canon sliced, diced, spoofed and condensed into two hours.
Now, one of the Off-Broadway production's original producers, Jeffrey Richards, is intending to co-produce an OB revival of the piece (with Kip Gould) to start previews in early fall. A Back Stage casting notice for the revival lists a first preview date of Sept. 28, with an opening night and venue yet to be decided.
Penned by the American-born but London-based trio of Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, Compleat Wks has wowed audiences with its knock-about farce since its debut at the Edinburgh Festival and has gone on to win critical acclaim in productions around the world. The show has also played two engagements in Los Angeles.
In Shksper, the onstage trio get through a month's worth of theatre in 97 minutes by using rapid-fire costume changes, lethal stage props, audience-participation, rapping and capsulized Elizabethan poetry. The first Off-Broadway mounting starred Christopher Duva, Peter Jacobson and Jon Patrick Walker and was directed by co-author Winfield.
Compleat Wks is one of several plays hoping to land Off-Broadway this season. The Jeffrey Sweet drama Flyovers and Allan Knee's romantic drama Syncopation are also on the flight-path. — By David Lefkowitz