Journey into the mind of William Shatner

Can Mr. Shatner defeat himself?

Simon Benarroch

What: “The Complete Works of William Shatner (abridged)”

Where: Bryant Lake Bowl, W. 810 Lake St., Minneapolis

When: 7 p.m.,Oct. 19, 26, 27

Cost: $12 in advance or with Fringe button, $15 at the door

 

William Shatner’s “work equals work” showbiz philosophy has seen his persona slide through the decades from classically trained actor to career-locked space captain to supernatural travel agency representative.

His career is widely characterized as one of decline, but no one agrees when and where the decline began. All anyone knows is that the man never could have guessed where he’d end up.

“You’ll never get everything you want,” said Tim Wick, co-writer of “The Complete Works of William Shatner (abridged),” a play about Shatner’s examination of his acting career.

He and co-writer Bill Stiteler are rebooting the top-5 Fringe Festival comedy at the Bryant-Lake Bowl this weekend.

The basic plot is this: A young Bill Shatner, by extraordinary means, encounters some of the roles he will play throughout his life and, disturbed, takes drastic measures to avoid his fate. The crux of the story is, Wick said, the dichotomy of what we are and what we want to be.

All this, Wick said, began when he and the show’s director-to-be, John Newstrom, casually tossed Fringe show titles back and forth and at a bar. One of them, neither remembers which, pitched “The Complete Works of William Shatner (abridged)” and naturally shared the title on Twitter.

There it got Stiteler’s attention, who insisted that the play actually happened.

“Then we had to decide what it was going to be about,” Wick said.

“Young William Shatner thought he’d have a long and very serious career as a sort of Shakespearean actor,” he said, “but somewhere things changed.”

“It’s kind of ridiculous. I wrote it, but I don’t have the script in front of me, so I’ll paraphrase,” he said

Captain Kirk, played by Windy Bowlsby, is unexpectedly beamed onto an alien planet. As he tries to collect himself, he’s jumped by a Gorn-like monster, they grapple, and the captain finds himself caught in an energy beam with his crew.

Nonplussed, he looks at his captor and says, “So you’re gonna have us all compete so you decide whether or not to spare humanity?”

The alien confirms this. A bewildered crewmate asks how he knew that was their plan, to which Kirk replies, “This happens to me a lot.”

While “Complete Works” is a comedy, Wick said the creators have no intention of taking cheap shots at the Shat. The themes are actually a little serious, which is a departure for Wick; his Fringe Festival hit “Highlander: The Musical” was just a silly parody, whereas this play has an original story and themes of hope and failure.

“I always try to scare myself a little with my plays,” he said.

Ultimately, Wick said he likes to think that if Shatner himself sat in the audience, he would see more than a string of jokes at his expense.

With “Complete Works,” Wick and Stiteler aim to examine the actor’s career as interpreted by his own psyche. Considering Shatner’s reputed enthusiasm for all things Shatner, it could be just the thing for him.