The Reduced Shakespeare Company – The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

The Reduced Shakespeare Company – The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

  • Reduced Shakespeare Company, The: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

Life is short. The complete works of Shakespeare are long. To the rescue: THE REDUCED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY, the three-man comedy troupe known for fast, funny, physical condensations of real serious stuff. They wrap up the Bard’s outsized oeuvre in 90 roller-coaster, rib-tickling minutes. After warming up with a nothing-is-sacred send-up of Romeo and Juliet, they’re off, dispensing with the comedies in one fell swoop (because the tragedies are funnier). You decide after you see Othello as a rap so

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3 thoughts on “The Reduced Shakespeare Company – The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

  1. 83 of 88 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    It helps if you know your Shakespeare very well, June 18, 2001
    By 
    F. Behrens “Frank Behrens” (Keene, NH USA) –
    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    When the Reduced Shakespeare Company performs <The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)>, it is a case of three apparently indefatigable actors (Adam Long, Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor) whirlwinding through the plays, some of which are barely mentioned, some of which are treated at greater length–all in 90 minutes. Well, the Good News is that the show is now available from Acorn Media on a VHS. (Note: this video contains material not shown on PBS.)
    To cut to the chase, you really have to know your Bard to get all the jokes. Treating “Titus Andronicus” as a cooking class works if you are familiar enough with the plot (the recent movie might help here); and unless you know your English kings from Richard II to Richard III (with all the Henrys in the middle), the football game with a crown as ball will have little meaning. ( I thought the line about cutting Henry VI into three parts was the best in this sketch.)
    Possibly the bit that calls for the audience’s greatest degree of knowledge and concentration is the resume of a plot that combines all the Shakespearean comedies into a single play (with a very long title). There are plenty of in-jokes and bad puns throughout Act I to demand your fullest attention–and again, few of them work if you do not know the originals.
    The first act ends with a little situation in which one of the troupe refuses to do “Hamlet” and flees from the theater. When Act II begins, he has not been brought back and the remaining actor must fill the time with Monty Python-like bad routines. Once back on track, the audience is enlisted to help one of their number (I assume she is not a plant) “feel” the part of Ophelia. The trio’s versatility is put to the test at the very end when they repeat the entire Hamlet production quickly, then very quickly, and finally very quickly and backwards!
    So all in all, this is a joyous romp for those “in the know” and one that might seem pretty pointless for those who have avoided Shakespeare once school was over. Therefore I must give it 4 stars out of 5 in general, although it deserves 5-plus for those who have stuck with the iambics all these years.
    A perfect gift for your English teacher, by the way. Unless you are an English teacher, in which case buy one for yourself.

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  2. 18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Preview Before Sharing With Students, May 20, 2002
    By 
    Evangeline “geraniumkiss” (Hampton Roads VA United States) –

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    For maximum enjoyment, you should know Hamlet because it takes up half of the production. Also, the jokes are best if you have a pretty solid knowledge of Mr. Shakespeare. Even so, the video is appealing in a Three Stooges kind of way even if you have no idea about this guy Shakespeare. The fact that all of the comedies are covered in one fell swoop is a funny (and accurate) commentary in itself. The best part is that Shakespeare is seen as F-U-N for all ages. ***Caution- As with every video, preview before showing to your classes. There are a few curse words and other touchy material. Othello’s *ahem* manhood is alluded to in a …stereotypical way and the Titus Andronicus cooking show, while humorous, does rely on a bit of black humor. I find the majority of this video to be best suited to English majors and 12th-grade students.

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  3. 24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Finally on DVD!, November 7, 2003
    By 
    Blake Petit “Novelist, columnist & reviewer” (Ama, Louisiana United States) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Reduced Shakespeare Company – The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (DVD)
    I was introduced to the Reduced Shakespeare Company when I was cast in a production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged]” in college. The play was the funniest thing I’d ever done — I pulled a muscle when I first read the script simply from laughing too hard — and I’ve been a huge fan of theirs ever since.
    Finally, their premiere production is available on DVD! This video of a production starring Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor and Adam Long is as funny as the script was the first time I read it. I was unusual, after having been in the play myself, to see how some of the originators actually envisioned the scenes, as well as how the scenes had evolved in the years since the play was first published — the Titus Andronicus cooking show, for instance, went from a cross-dressing gag to an Emeril parody. It was still hysterically funny.
    The DVD also has a surprising amount of special features, including a video of the complete “Romeo and Juliet” segment from the first ever production of the show, starring Adam Long, Jess Winfield and Daniel Singer. (It’s also interesting to note how THAT scene evolved from the first production until the date of publication.)
    If you’re an RSC fan, this is a great DVD. If you’ve never seen one of their shows before, watch this DVD — you’ll become a fan.

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