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Veteran local actor Matthew A. Works is no stranger to wacky comedies.

His resume includes roles ranging from the foot speller in TADA Productions’ staging of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” to King Arthur in “Spamalot” at the Lincoln Community Playhouse.

Flatwater Shakespeare Company’s next production falls right into his wheelhouse. He will join Nick Howard and Paul Schack in staging “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” an irreverent, 90-minute romp through all 37 of the Bard’s plays.

The parody begins an eight-performance run at 7 p.m. March 14 at The Mill on Innovation Campus — a new location for Flatwater, or any theater for that matter.

“It’s a ridiculously funny show with what we do on stage,” Works said. “I did Shakespeare in college and have done some more beyond that. The language hasn’t changed here. But the reverence we usually pay to Shakespeare takes a backseat to the humor.”

In fact, Flatwater, realizing Shakespeare isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, is using the tagline: “If you like Shakespeare, you'll like this show! If you hate Shakespeare, you will LOVE! THIS! SHOW!”

Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, “Complete Works” pokes fun at Shakespeare with shortened and/or merged versions of his tragedies, comedies and histories. The actors often break the fourth wall and sometimes involve the audience in the madcap mayhem.

Director Paul Durban likens it to kids pretending to put on a play in their grandmother’s attic, grabbing whatever props they can find to enhance their performance.

“I like the fact that it’s controlled chaos,” said Durban, who’s directing his first Flatwater show after having guided shows at TADA and the Playhouse. He’s also a seven-year member of the Lyp-Schtick, a Lincoln improv company.

“Complete Works” is new to Durban, but not the Reduced Shakespeare Company, founded by Singer. Following “Complete Works” (1987), the Reduced Shakespeare Company produced nine more “abridged” works, including 1992’s “The Complete History of America (abridged),” which Durban directed for TADA in 2007.

“People who know Shakespeare will know where the mistakes are made,” Durban said. “But you don’t need to be a fan of Shakespeare to enjoy it. At its core, it’s a comedy.”

Flatwater will be the first to use The Mill at Innovation Campus as a theater venue. The company has become known for staging its plays in diverse sites, from the Stables at Wyuka to public parks to vineyards.

Durban sees it as a win for both Flatwater and The Mill. The company is staging something that’s a bit atypical, and that may draw some new audience members, while The Mill is just hoping to draw people beyond those who work on Innovation Campus.

“How often do you go to Innovation Campus unless you have business there?” Durban asked. “I think it will be advantageous for both.”

Jeff Korbelik is the tasting room manager at James Arthur Vineyards and former Journal Star features editor. He also is a Flatwater Shakespeare Company board member.


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