By Laura Kaae

Killeen Daily Herald

You've read his plays (at least the CliffsNotes versions), and you know his characters. But if you're thinking of the Shakespeare that's the Olde English, hard-to-understand, I-wish-I-stayed-home-from-school-today versions of his classic plays, then you've never seen Shakespeare at the Silver Spur Theater in Salado.

The complete works, that is to say all 37 plays, will be performed this weekend in the span of two hours at the Salado theater by just three men – two of whom used to be professional clowns.

So that means goodbye long monologues and dramatic speeches. Hello, "Othello" as a rap song and "Titus Andronicus," Shakespeare's earliest tragedy, the cooking show version.

Grainger Esch, proprietor of the theater and one of the three actors in the show, said the play is the fun version of all those Shakespearean classics.

"It's good-natured satire," he said. "It's a really fun show."

"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" will be performed in the 150-seat theater in Salado throughout the month as the Salado Silver Spur Theater kicks off its 2008 season with the "Complete Works" – a crowd favorite.

The show was performed by the same cast – including Grainger Esch, Kevin C. Carr and Tony Blackman – last fall to rave reviews, Esch said, so they decided to bring it back again this season.

Though Esch admitted some people might be scared off about a high-brow show involving Shakespeare, the performer said "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" is a comedy for all ages and education levels – whether they actually read Shakespeare or just slept through that class.

"Our trademark is slapstick comedy," Esch said of the theater. "It's what we do best. This (show) was perfect."

The two-hour comedy is for kids as young as 6 who will enjoy the silliness of the performance, Esch said.

"Be prepared to laugh," he said. "But if people aren't careful, they might just learn something, too."

The Silver Spur Theater is at 108 Royal St., Salado. For more information, visit

Contact Laura Kaae at or call (254) 501-7464

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