Review: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) – Revised
Venue: York Theatre Royal, April 17
As a former English teacher, I approach any version of Shakespeare with trepidation, but also hope. Although I no longer teach, I still love the Shakespearean experience, and hope that every version will be accessible to the youth of today, while retaining the spirit and language.
The Reduced Shakespeare Company aim to present The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) in 97 minutes. A very bold claim, but I have heard good things about them. Turns out, all the good things I have heard are correct. The show is fast, funny and very good.
The three actors involved all have excellent comic timing and a likability which helps you bridge the slightly more complicated parts of the show – and it can be complicated. There are 37 plays and 155 sonnets to get through, some get glossed over with a throwaway mention, others get more time. But where else would you see a mechanical miniature Godzilla, sing along to The Lion Sleeps Tonight and hear The Fresh Moor of Bell Air in one night of entertainment?
And entertainment is the word. From the opening, it is clear that this is not the other RSC and that we are here for the laughs. I laughed constantly for nearly two hours, and it was clear that the 12 year old in front of me and an older gentleman in his 70s were enjoying the show as much as us.
After all, who doesn’t find the line “Jobbie in your stew” funny as part of Macbeth? You don’t? Then we can no longer be friends.
In short, a wildly entertaining, hysterically funny night out, and if you get the chance to see it, you should. Highly recommended for all the family. If you know a little about the plays it wouldn’t hurt, but if not, who cares?