IEWS|Curio Theatre Company presents Tim Crouch & Spymonkey’s The Complete Deaths
There are 75 onstage deaths in the complete works of William Shakespeare (although one of them is a fly). The deaths range from the truly tragic (Desdemona) to the ironically timed (both Romeo and Juliet) to the comic play-within-a-play (Pyramus and Thisbe) to the downright grotesque (basically everyone in Titus Andronicus). Cramming them all into an hour and a half shouldn’t work…which is more or less exactly why it does.
Sincerity’s quick death
To be clear, The Complete Deaths is not a faithful presentation of all of the onstage deaths in Shakespeare, although at the start of the play the audience is told that it is meant to be. Any upfront attempt at sincerity, however, is thwarted by a cast (Curio’s co-artistic director Paul Kuhn, along with Aetna Gallagher, Tessa Kuhn, and Nathan Joseph) that’s just trying to have a little fun.
So what we wind up with in director Meg Trelease’s hands, instead of a sincere ode to the Bard’s departed characters, is a multimedia performance that includes mime, expressionist dance, clowning, puppetry, and more. The deaths are all still there, but they’re not what you’d expect. Standout moments included a clownish take on Titus Andronicus, a moment in which Joseph performs two deaths simultaneously, and the moment a fight turned into a musical number that would have befitted The Blue Man Group (sans the body paint).
The Complete Deaths. Written by Tim Crouch & Spymonkey (Aitor Basauri, Stephan Kreiss, Petra Massey, and Toby Park). Directed by Meg Trelease. $20–$30. Through April 1, 2023 the Black Box at the Calvary Center, 4740 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia. Curiotheatre.org.