Taking the obfuscatory powers of Shakespearean English to new levels, Tom Stoppards Doggs Hamlet, Cahoots Macbeth is bound to entertain even more than it may confuse. The oddly-named play is actually two short plays, separated by a comma and a common language. Doggs Hamlet features a fifteen-minute long Hamlet performed in the fictional language of Dogg by a trio of school children. As unbelievable as it sounds, the group then condenses play down to a raw two minutes as an encore. Cahoots Macbeth is also a condensed form of Shakespeares MacBeth, inspired by Czechoslovakian playwright Pavel Kohouts drawing room adaptation of the play; during the Soviet oppression of his homeland, Kohout was forbidden from working in the theatre, so he re-worked the play to be performed in private living rooms. Cahoots Macbeth features a tense rendition of MacBeth, performed in secret but under the watchful eyes of a government observer. Stoppards facility for wordplay, puns and multi-layered jokes comes through despite, or perhaps because of, the degree of difficulty involved in both plays. St. Louis Shakespeare presents Doggs Hamlet, Cahoots Macbeth at the Grandel Theatre (3610 Grandel Square; 314-534-1111 or www.stlshakespeare.org) at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (August 10 through 19), with a 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, August 16. Tickets are $15-$22.
Fridays-Sundays; Thu., Aug. 16. Starts: Aug. 10. Continues through Aug. 19