Banquo Is Me

A pair of Shakespearean travesties runs the gamut from bard to worse

The performers, all of them talented comic actors who've done better work, attempt to overcome the limits of the material by overacting and tossing off endless ad-libbed asides to the audience. Gentry in an ugly dress and messy wig is funny the first couple of times, but his interminable parade of damsels in a drag gag quickly loses its appeal. Burgess and Hopkins run around in tunics, spouting Shakespearean prose and howling like a 16th-century Beavis and Butt-head. The clowning occasionally pays off: The pair walks off with the second act, a series of takes on Hamlet that closes the show on an up note. Each Hamlet is played faster than the last, and the final version is played backward ("Be to not or be to?") in a hilarious curtain call.

Despite the amusing finish, much of what came before is too ordinary and played too broadly to be consistently fun. Even so, the goofy three-minute version of Othello--in which the cast members do the Macarena and sing about their penises--manages to bring more feeling to the Moor of Venice than did our local Shakespeare company's two-and-a-half-hour interpretation of the same play.

Othello continues through Saturday, February 1, at Mountain View High School Auditorium, 2700 East Brown in Mesa. The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged) continues through Sunday, February 9, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe.

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