Fringe review: ‘Lot o’ Shakespeare’

Lot o’ Shakespeare, Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre, Arlington Heights, IL. Red venue, 60 minutes, $10. (Discounts: Fringe artists and volunteers.)

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

Timothy Mooney

Timothy Mooney can talk, and Timothy Mooney can talk fast. He may describe himself as a “dweeby middle-aged man,”  but when he recites Molière or Shakespeare he’s like a house afire (or, more accurately, like the fire truck racing to the scene). Off the top of my head, I’d say he has more energy than is legal at 11:35 p.m., which is when the show I saw began.

Mooney puts that skill to good use in his newest Fringe show, Lot o’ Shakespeare, in which he performs monologues from a whole bunch of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets (there were 14 plays and two sonnets the night I was there), all chosen by the spin of a lottery ball.

(I have to note here that, contrary to the show’s description, Mooney isn’t reciting from every play and every sonnet. The plays alone would take a couple of hours, and there are more than 150 sonnets.)

The show is a parlor trick, he admits, and that carnival atmosphere is amplified by the addition of Bingo (it’s called I-A-G-O here) and a tip jar for bribes. But somebody looking to be amazed at the breadth of Shakespeare’s scribblings may get a big kick out of what is happening here.

Most of the time Mooney goes for the obvious choices: From Hamlet he chooses “To be or not to be,” from King Lear the old monarch’s exhortation to the heavens, from Merchant of Venice “Hath not a Jew eyes?” If you’re familiar with Shakespeare, it’s fun to hear the standards again, even if they nearly all are performed with the same upbeat intensity. And if you’re not, this is as good and quick a crash course as any.

As for me, the highlights were the two sonnets — much less familiar territory, and pleasurable to hear without the intrusion of all those warring characters. At 11:35 p.m., there’s a lot to be said for somebody reciting sonnets to you before you go to sleep.

Remaining shows:
Tuesday May 24, 8:45 p.m.
Thursday May 26, 9:45 p.m.
Saturday May 28, 5:30 p.m.

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