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.

6 thoughts on “Reduced Billybob

  • April 23, 2008 at 2:18 am
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    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….

  • April 23, 2008 at 6:53 am
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    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.

  • April 23, 2008 at 8:55 am
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    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!

  • April 23, 2008 at 12:44 pm
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    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

  • April 23, 2008 at 11:18 pm
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    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!

  • April 24, 2008 at 9:11 am
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    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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