How to be a Red Hot Shakespearean Lover by Gregory Steinbruner and Eve Hartmann opens the evening; a sketch-like mock workshop where a vainglorious "Love Master" (Katie Wallack) instructs a group of students on how to be Red Hot Shakespearean Lovers. Wallack and Love Master in Training Geoff Bergman hit some strong comedic notes throughout the "workshop", but the intermingled Shakespeare scenes intended to illustrate their points leave us wondering if director Adrian Harris Crowne's idea of "red hot" doesn't involve something resembling a milk-soaked bath towel. Drew Barrios plows pell-mell through his words in a breakneck attempt to outpace their meaning. Wallack and Bergman close the piece with the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet; but rather than the explosively enamored teenagers Shakespeare intended, they seem more like two jaded suburbanites suffering through an episode of the WB's Blind Date.
General of Hot Desire by John Guare takes a more somber tone, wherein students struggle to find meaning in Shakespeare's sonnets 153 and 154. It's a cloying symbolic drama reminiscent of a community theater nativity play, complete with Adam and Eve, actors playing trees and a personified God with a wacky accent.
Despite the production's missteps, the final piece comes together as a whole lot of fun. In Tom Stoppard's The Fifteen Minute Hamlet, the actors seem finally free of the awkward writing of the last two one-acts and come alive in a frenzied speed-through of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Grant Turner is a charged and riotous Hamlet, giving a rampant performance that is not without nuance. Melody Bridges and Jim Loy are also very funny as Gertrude and Polonius/Claudius, respectively. ANDREW HARRIS