THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) | What Hamlet calls "this most excellent canopy, the air," overhangs Orfeo Group's zanily laid-back rendition of the Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), which is being performed outdoors on the Publick Theatre stage in Christian Herter Park (through August 9). Neither are the plays of Shakespeare the only things squeezed by Orfeo, which reduces the title of this parodic staple to The Complete WOWS(A) and shaves the price of admission on Thursdays to nothing. The popular RSC spoof has been purveying its low-comedy take on the lofty art of the Bard since 1987, but Orfeo throws in a party atmosphere, beer for sale, and an urgency of its own. As Risher Reddick, nimble and nauseated as the show's too-too-solid heroines, warns, the troupe rejects "dry, boring, vomit-less Shakespeare." Joining the retching Risher in punning, mugging, swashbuckling, and pratfalling under the direction of Steven Barkhimer are an at-ease Daniel Berger-Jones and a more pompously antic Gabriel Kuttner. Skilled actors on a hambone holiday, they'll have you laughing till the light fades. | Publick Theatre, Christian Herter Park, 1175A Soldiers Field Road, Brighton | 617.747.4460 | Through August 9 | Curtain 6:45 pm Thurs-Fri | 2 + 6:45 pm Sat | 6:45 pm Sun | $15; Thurs free to all; Fri free with student ID

"FESTIVAL@FIRST 6: TABLES TURNED" | "Eight plays, two world premieres, three playwrights, eight directors, 18 actors — see it all in one night in Davis Square." Well, close, the venue is actually four blocks from Davis Square. But you do get all of the above in this sixth annual summer festival of one-acts from community-theater company Theatre@First. On the bill: Chris Lockheardt's Breakfast with Warhol, Helluva Poker Face, Not Funny, and Season's Greetings, Babs Lindsay's Canyon's Edge, Cupid's Beau, and The Usual, and Marc Freed's Dan in the Lion's Den. | Unity Church of God, 6 William St, Somerville | 888.874.7554 | Through August 1 | Curtain 8 pm Thurs-Sat | $12; $10 students, seniors

HAMLET | Shakespeare & Company reprises its 2006 production, a family affair, with Jason Asprey as Hamlet, S&C artistic director Tina Packer as Gertrude, her son, Jason Asprey, as Hamlet, and her husband, Dennis Krausnick, as — no, not Claudius, that would be a bit much — Polonius. Nigel Gore is back as Claudius, and Eleanor Holdridge again directs this dark, muscular production, in which the jarring metallic sounds that signify Hamlet's synaptic twitching also suggest the clanging shut of doors in the prison that is Denmark. This is a clear, compelling, if hardly transcendent reading, with a few twists that work — like Hamlet's passing out scripts of The Mousetrap to Gertrude and Claudius and having them play it like an amateur theatrical. With Elizabeth Raetz as Ophelia. | Shakespeare & Company, Founders Theatre, 70 Kemble St, Lenox | 413.637.3353 | Through August 28 | Curtain times vary | $16-$60

THE HAPPY OYSTER SPECTACULAR SHOW | Subtractive Media serves up this "live-action/video/music review with an Outer Cape bent that places contemporary culture under the microscope — one with a fractured lens. Good Morning America, Garrison Keillor, YouTube, drug commercials, and dating services are just a few of the subjects that fall prey to David Kennedy and his comedy troupe's satirical examination." | Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, Julie Harris Stage, 2357 Rte 6, Wellfleet | 508.349.WHAT | Through August 30 | Curtain 8 pm Sun | $25

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Related: Play by play: July 24, 2009, Play by Play: August 7, 2009, Year in Theater: Staged right, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Arsenal Center for the Arts, Musicals, Pablo Picasso,  More more >
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