National Theatre
Komor Marcell u. 1 [map]
Pest South, IX Millenniumi Kulturális Központ (T2) 3 min

Sunday night and a foray to the National Theatre to see a performance of an English-language comedy, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

The concept: every one of Shakespeare's plays performed by three players in two hours. As you might imagine, some of the bard's larger themes get glossed over in this format. This play was written by some prog-rock sounding trio called Long-Singer-Borgeson and is performed at the Nemzeti by a dramatic troupe called the Madhouse Theater Company.

Mike Kelly, Matt Devere and Andrew Hefler make up the cast. And, as you also might have imagined by now - it's a comedic spoof.

I had heard about this play and its long Budapest run many times. But the main circumstance that put me in the seats was not a review or knowledge of the text. It was a chance encounter with cast member Matt Devere in a Budapest watering hole - 6tus - a few weeks ago that brought me there. After he'd bought me my fifth Unicum, I pledged to see his show within the month.

On Sunday I was good as my word. Navigating a convoluted system of Metro, trams and buses brought us to the National Theater (Nemzeti Szinház), part of a relatively new complex that also includes the Palace of Arts (Művészetek Palotája or MUPA). The Palace of Arts building is quite handsome. I can't say the same for the theater building - a marriage of late-19th century neo-Hungarian excess and 21st century XIII district condominum.

But it's what goes on inside that counts. And the inside of the theater was packed, mostly with what I assumed to be rich Hungarian teens and their chaperones. A full house for a play that is not new on a Sunday night - very impressive.

And the play did not disappoint the packed house. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare is not so much a theatrical piece but an elaborate comedy sketch. The script is loose and unfocused, but the production is amply held together by the charisma of the three players. There are a few moments (a few too few, perhaps) where the true dramatic talents of the players are juxtaposed against the slapstick of the material: certainly the most entertaining bits of the evening.

For the record, the play ends with Hamlet being done in 90 seconds - backwards. What a piece of work is a man! How infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable! Especially when cross-dressing as Ophelia with buck teeth or running about the stage in reverse gear with a rubber knife through thine own cursed head!


This article originally appeared on Read more from SF here.


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