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The Reduced Shakespeare Company

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at damselwithadulcimer.wordpress.com and my theatre reviews at www.playstosee.com
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Reduced Shakespeare Company Perform 37 Plays in 97 Minutes
The Reduced Shakespeare Company style themselves the RSC, but you must never confuse them with the Royal Shakespeare Company based in Stratford-upon-Avon. The former is far funnier than you would imagine, and the actors also treat the Bard's work with an enormous amount of irreverence. However do not take offence, just a large needle and thread so that you can sew up your sides that will split with laughter when you watch the actors on stage.

Reduced Shakespeare Company
Reduced Shakespeare Company (Image Courtesy of reducedshakespeare.com)


Originally formed in 1981 the company has toured many countries of the world. Their first show The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (which ran for nine years at the Criterion in Piccadilly Circus) has been joined by many other tongue-in-cheek shortened versions of topics such as the history of America and the Bible. They are now touring again with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised].

Gary Fannin, Matthew Pearson and Matt Rippy soon drop the pretence of an academic approach to the 37 plays written by the man from Stratford and rush through them all at breakneck speed. Their opening offering of Romeo and Juliet runs to 12 minutes (their timing) so the need for reduction is obvious. Suited in semi-Elizabethan costumes, and booted in sneakers they offer us The Gory Gourmet, a TV chef version of Titus Andronicus, a rap Othello


and the history plays performed as a game of American football. The romances and comedies are joined together as one, although I defy you to identify every single play, and Coriolanus is squeamishly avoided as they insist that the final two syllables are a rude word. Macbeth is tackled with Scottish accents, 'See you Jimmies', tam-o-'shanters and the threat of vomit in alleyways, before the tyrants bouncing head is lobbed into the audience.

Reduced Shakespeare Company
Reduced Shakespeare Company (Image Courtesy of reducedshakespeare.com)


They return for the second half with a cut-down Hamlet including a histrionic Ophelia, puppets, ghosts and a rubber Yorick's skull. And if you think that isn't value for money, they then reprise it faster, fastest and backwards.

If you are unable to catch up with the show at the Leicester Square Theatre in London before the middle of August, it will continue to tour the country before departing for Singapore and Hong Kong.

Please don't go to see the RSC if you are a Shakespeare purist, but if you have a sense of fun and enjoy farce and satire, as well as laughing at men dressed as women wearing diabolical wigs and balloon bosoms this will be just your ticket.
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Why? To enjoy some madcap theatre poking fun at Shakespeare
When: Full details are on the website
Where: Leicester Square Theatre
Cost: Between 15.00 and 27.50
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