Also see John's review of 1,000 Homosexuals
The Reduced Shakespeare Company was founded in 1981 by Daniel Singer who wrote a 25-minute, 4-actor version of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Three weeks into the run of the production at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Novato, California, one of the actresses broke her ankle. It was after she was replaced with a man in drag named Adam Long that the show developed a large following. Singer and Long then penned a twenty-minute version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which they performed at Renaissance Fairs, etc. . Crowds were amazed to see two men arrive with a small basket of costumes, props and wigs and proceed to enact the entire story with the zany style of a Marx Brothers movie. Long and Singer expanded the comedy in the act and began soliciting for tips afterwards.
In 1987, they decided to take their act to the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. With the ideal show length being about an hour, they needed another twenty more minutes of material. They proposed doing Shakespeare's other 35 plays to round out an abridgement of everything the bard wrote in less than one hour. The resulting script successfully premiered at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura, adjacent to the site of the Renaissance Faire. The show (expanded to 97 minutes) moved to Edinburgh for a three-week run, before going on tour at theatres and festivals around the world.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) ran for nine record-breaking years at the Criterion Theatre in London's West End. It has become one of the world's most popular shows, playing frequently in a variety of languages. In the 1990s, Martin and Tichenor wrote the company's second play, Complete History of America (abridged). They followed this up with The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged), The Complete Millennium Musical (abridged), All the Great Books (abridged), and the troupe's most recent show Completely Hollywood (abridged).
This show is a rare combination of broad physical comedy, bawdy gags and fiercely honed acting. The three-man cast weaves their way through comedically condensed versions of Shakespeare's tragedies, histories and comedies with what appears to be the grace of a bull in a china shop. Despite the seemingly improvisational nature of the show, however, the figurative bull in this theatrical china shop has been thoroughly choreographed to milk the most of every moment, turning an evening of Shakespeare into something out of Saturday Night Live.
Those of you who have been to Renaissance Festivals to see the sort of acts performed there, will be familiar with the style of the show. Those who have not may compare it to the humorous style of Monty Python. This production is full of great fun and laughs, even including a bit of audience participation. It wouldn't be possible for anyone with a pulse and a brain to make it through this show without laughing at the antics of this talented cast joyfully defiling the works of William Shakespeare.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) will appear through January 18, 2009, at the Adrienne Arsht Center For The Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in the Center's Carnival Studio Theatre. The Arsht Center is located in Miami, FL. For information or to purchase tickets for the many diverse offering of the Arsht Center, you may contact them at 305-949-6072, or visit them on line at www.arschtcenter.org.
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is made possible by the public support of the Miami-Dade County Major and the Board of County Commissioners, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council. It also receives generous support from private and corporate contributions to the Performing Arts Center Foundation of Greater Miami through it's Membership Program, the City of Miami Omni Community Redevelopment Agency, the Dade Community Foundation, The MAP-Fund, the Sate of Florida, the Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Cast: Each performance contains three of the following Reduced Shakespeare company members:
The actors and stage managers in this production are members of Actor's Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
*Denotes a members of Actor's Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.