reduced shakespeare company

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised]

Reduced Shakespeare Company             

Malvern Theatres


YOU know what you are going to get when you go to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company: a stir-fry of Shakespearean excerpts, diced, sliced and served with embellishments.

We were not disappointed! We even got ‘Hamlet’ cubed and turned over! One is reminded of Tom Stoppard’s Fifteen Minute Hamlet! There is no profundity or subtle social messages in this evening’s entertainment.

It is a light-hearted and fun-filled performance of frivolity, using the Bard as a skeleton on which to hang most of the jokes

The nature of the show is that it is a fast-moving ensemble piece that includes many elements of physical theatre as well as verbal jokes, puns, quotations and misquotations. It helps to be familiar with a few of the plays, in particular ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Hamlet’, ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Othello’ for a start. Perhaps an awareness that Titus Andronicus is gruesome too!

The nature of the piece is that the interaction with the audience is a crucial part of the entertainment. The cast are in constant dialogue with members of the audience, one or two are even drawn up on to the stage, and everyone is called upon to shout or wave at some point!

The humour is thus derived from a variety of elements. Shakepeare is of course highly revered as the world’s greatest dramatist, his poetry admired and analysed in every literature course in the land, if not the world, so an irreverent playing with his famous texts and lines of sublime poetry becomes an enjoyable indulgence; we poke fun at and tease those we love and cherish!

The juxtaposition of some of those famous lines with anachronistic references to modern technological life is classic deconstruction and comedy. All the usual comic devices are employed – repetition, pun, anti-climax . . . It is a formula that works wonderfully well. The audience join in and are richly entertained.

It would be invidious to pick out one individual for praise in the cast of three. Matt Pearson, Gary Fannin and David Ellis provide contrasting heights and physiques, voices and characters; they interact with great slickness and precision. There is a general youthfulness and energy about the whole show that endears them to the audience who feel as though they have become friends by the final bows.

The timing, the agility and inventiveness are very good, and they swap roles with great efficiency; the farcical style of the show results in a feeling of informality about the whole event.

The show was a one-nighter in Malvern and they have one final performance in Bath (10,July - Komedia Bath; 22-23 Westgate St, Bath BA1 1EP, Phone:0845 293 8480) to conclude their UK tour! They provide a very enjoyable light evening of frivolity and fun!

Timothy Crow


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