Nerd of Avon: Prospect Heights bar combines Shakespeare and sci-fi

Wizard of odd: “Batman of Gotham” co-writer Michael Hagins, left, played Prospero in a previous Way Station Companions production “The Doctor and the Tempest.”
Photo by Bill Roundy

What a piece of work is a Batman!

A new play combines the poetry of Shakespeare with the thrilling action of superheroes. “Batman of Gotham,” playing on Aug. 12 at Prospect Heights nerd bar the Way Station, is part of a monthly series of shows that mash up Shakespearean plays with science-fiction and fantasy pop culture. The upcoming production, a sort of Midsummer Dark Knight’s Dream, will bring the Elizabethan playwright’s little-known drama “Timon of Athens” into the world of underground mobs and crime-fighting bats, said the play’s writer.

“It’s like performing Batman as Shakespeare, or if Shakespeare had written Batman,” said Jonathan Galvez.

Galvez and his writing partner Michael Hagins create the scripts for the Way Station Companions, a group of about 14 regulars of the bar who come together to perform on its stage on the second Monday of each month. Past performances have mixed the cartoon “Rick and Morty” with “Julius Caesar,” “Game of Thrones” with “Richard III,” and “Doctor Who” with “The Tempest,” said Galvez, creating fast-paced plays from the Bard’s original text.

“We keep the majority of the Shakespeare text,” he said. “We edit it down to about an hour long, but most of the dialogue comes from Shakespeare.”

Adding a fun pop culture element can draw in an audience that might be turned away by a show filled with 17th-century iambic pentameter, said Galvez.

“It makes the Shakespeare accessible,” he said. “Not a lot of people are going to be willing to go to a production of ‘Timon of Athens,’ but a lot of people will go see ‘Batman.’ It kind of creates a cross-appreciation of both.”

And audiences are sure to get a buzz from the drinking game that accompanies each dramatic staging. For the upcoming Dark Knight, that will mean swigging sips each time the Joker laughs, or the “Pow!” sound effect plays.

“That’s nothing compared to previous shows,” said Galvez. “When we did ‘Rick and Morty,’ you had to drink every time a curse word was said — and there were basically curse words every five seconds.”

“Batman of Gotham” at the Way Station [683 Washington Ave. between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place in Prospect Heights, (347) 627–4949, www.thewaystationbk.com]. Aug. 12 at 8:30 p.m. Free.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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