Tuesday 22 April 2008

Reduced Billybob

A very fun evening at the theatre, watching The Reduced Shakespeare Company perform The Complete Works of Shakespeare in 97 minutes. Now, if only they'd been around while I was doing my revision.for finals...

This post contains quite a few spoilers, both of Shakespeare and how they used Shakespeare, so read on only with the greatest caution...

Great fun. We saw Hamlet in a few minutes, complete with sock puppetry, shark and Ophelia's id being acted out by the audience waving their hands rhythmically; the Histories were performed as a game of American Football; the Comedies were rolled into one performance ("Which is the one which starts with a ship wreck, has identical twins, and ends with a wedding?" "All of them.")

Since the troupe was a three-man-band, all the female parts were (appropriately enough) played by men. Unlike the Renaissance stage, they were taken by one man in a bad wig, who screamed a lot. Actually... ahem. Hamlet's Ghost held up a sign saying 'Boo'; one man played the balconey in Romeo & Juliet; Juliet failed to kill herself because her sword was a retractable stage one; Othello had toy boats tied around his neck, as they'd misunderstood the meaning of 'Moor'...

Oh, it was great. And not the least informative.


  1. Oh, gosh, that sounds like fun! As a British Literature teacher this is right up my alley.

    I wonder how my principal would feel about a field trip to England to see it!?

    Oh, well....

  2. I've seen this show several times, I've lost count. I just watched it again a few months ago when touring group came to Korea. It's a great show.

  3. A bit like Jeeves and Wooster - you have to know stuff to appreciate the humour - maybe you learned more than you realised during your Shakespeare studies!

  4. I loved this show too when I saw it a few years ago, and you really do need to know your Shakespeare to get all the jokes etc. I was amazed at how much of WS I have imbibed over the years without even noticing

  5. Oh it does sound like fun! What a great evening. I would go just to see the ghost of Hamlet's father with the "Boo" sign. What a stitch!

  6. Do you remember seeing this production at the Criterion off Picadilly circus many years ago, when we were amongst the few people in the theatre for a matinee?
    Similar work is done by the National Theatre of Brent - recently they did "all the world's a globe" on BBC 7 (they have just completed "The Arts and how they was done".) (The NToB regard teh RSC as overstaffed - NToB only has 2 members)


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