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A magnificent stage performance. The first half runs through 36 of Will's
plays, at about 2 minutes a play. The second half is the funniest production
of Hamlet you are ever likely to see. These three guys provide one of the
most energetic and comic stage performances possible. And they involve the
audience in ways that give a new dimension to the concept of audience
The Reduced Shakespeare Company has been touring for many years now, but this production in Vancouver is as fresh as if they had opened yesterday. The interplay between the three actors, their audience 'volunteers' and the immortal bard provide one of the greatest comedy experiences you are ever likely to see. Don't miss them - on stage (but don't sit in the front row!) or on screen.
I first saw this film in my drama class a few years ago. It was cruel of
the teacher to break up the showing, just a little bit each day. This is
one that you can watch over and over again and still fall out of your
laughing. Memorize it, quote it, perform it. It doesn't get any better
"I am Omelette, the Cheese Danish" -Austin Tichener Compelete works of Shakespeare Abridged
Oh . . . my . . . god. I just saw this movie last night and it was the
and the hardest laugh I'd had in a long time. My back was killing me by
time the movie was over. The costume changes (if you could call them that
by the end of the movie) are great, the vomiting is great, and the digs at
academia are great. Even though it warns that this movie is not meant for
English majors (I'm an English major and I can't wait to see this movie
again), I think that they really mean that it's not meant for those who
Shakespeare way too seriously, who view Shakespeare as some sort of
Only two complaints: The director cuts to the audience a little too much. You can hear that they're having fun, they're laughing, they're getting into the play, we don't need to see their reactions as well. The action goes by so quickly, I wonder if I'm missing something on stage when they cut to the audience. The other complaint: my friend sitting next to me who was viewing it for the fifth time ("Oh, this is great," "watch this," "Oh this part's funny.")
Definitely for anyone who's read Shakespeare (which would be everyone) and thought that it could never be anything but dull and boring (which in reality his plays are very rich, but then again I'm biased). :-)
Most comedies based upon the works of others have a tendency to start with an inspired idea, but in the end don't come across as well as they should have (think _Bridget Jones's Diary_). Here, on the other hand, is quite possibly the funniest thing ever done on a stage anywhere. The three members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company have, over the course of 20+ years, refined and honed this show to the point where all you get is the lean meat - there's not an ounce of fat to be seen. The only point during the entire DVD where I stop laughing is the three-second intermission between the first and second half of the show (well-placed, as it gives me a chance to catch my breath). 10 is too low a rating to give this gem.
This filming of a 3 person stage act is hilarious even if you know little about some of Shakespeare's plays. The plays you are most likely to know are emphasized - Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet - with sly contemporary asides to the audience mingled amongst the sometimes don't-blink-or-you-will-miss-it performances of all of Shakespeare's plays. The entire production is laugh out loud entertainment. Adam Long, who acts like the dumbest member of the trio, is the genius behind this production. He has other works like the Complete History of America and The Bible Abridged, but, as far as I know, none have been performed for video. This is the one chance to see his comic brilliance on tape.
I first encountered this grandly amusing entertainment as a live
production at my university campus some years ago. My son and I decided
to to go based solely on the play's title, and a winking caricature of
Shakespeare displayed on the poster. Little did we know what that wink
signified, as we had no idea of the lunacy that was in store for us.
When "The Reduced Shakespeare Company" came available on VHS (then,
later, DVD), I purchased it, and have been enjoying and sharing it ever
As a secondary English teacher, I have difficulty sometimes getting my students to embrace the classics. When I mention Shakespeare, eyes roll, heads fall onto desks, and moans can be heard. It's like getting a small child to eat his vegetables. Like broccoli, the classics are good for us, but they're hard for some to digest.
Enter the Reduced Shakespeare Company with its "The Complete Works of "William Shakespeare (Abridged)." I have used excerpts in class to show the kids that Shakespeare can be a lot of fun. With their more-or-less complete versions of "Romeo and Juliet" and "Hamlet," even my most resistant students know the major plot points and themes of these plays.
The overview of the other plays is inspired, lumping the main ideas of Shakespeare's comedies into one tossed-salad. The histories are also compressed in a manner that only Americans could have devised.
And, one can never view "Othello" in quite the same way after hearing the "Reduced Shakesperians" rendition of "Othello Rap." This performance is much more (or less) than a teaching tool. It is a rollicking, comedic fun time for all. If you like Shakespeare already, you'll like the witty satire going on here. If you like the Three Stooges, the slapstick is right up your alley. If you have a short attention span, don't worry. One can view this performance as a whole, or pick out bits one finds amusing.
I have viewed "The Complete Works" several times now, both with my family and with my students, and each time I find a new joke, or even a new insight, that I missed earlier.
Some have suggested that Shakespeare is perhaps rolling in his grave at this treatment of his plays. I like to believe, however, that if he were alive today, Will would be laughing--all the way to the bank.
I first saw this filmed version in my freshman year in high school when I was just starting to appreciate the works of Shakespeare, and this has just made me fall in love with the Bard more. Ever since I first saw this, I've seen it hundreds of times and even read the script, only to find myself still laughing. Watching Austin, Adam, and Reed is like spending 90 minutes with three best friends who only want to entertain you. Seeing it live was indeed a highlight and I don't think I'll ever stop listening to the Othello rap. The comedic timing is hilarious and their talent at improvisation is priceless. Reduced Shakespeare Company, you've made my life so much more complete. :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the start to the finish, this is one of the funniest things that has ever been filmed from a stage show. In under and hour and a half, this show goes through everything, Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet (forward and backwards). All the comedies are packed into one play. Sadly though, they claim that it's filmed at the Criterion theatre (London) even though it quite clearly isn't because I've visited it. Despite that, this performance is magnificent, Adam still acts as the youngest most immature of the group. Austin Titchnor is and always will be the serious member who only wants people to learn, despite the ignorance of the other two (especially during the reading of the book 'I LOVE MY WILLY!')Finially Reed Martin (my favourite set of parts (if u ever want a trained actor for the show guys!!!) is the perfect clown of the piece, his ability to play the accordion (he plays the telephone waltz whilst he does the sonnets), Mimes himself in a box (in the 'i love my Willy' scene) eats fire, and is kind of a ringleader to the whole event. After seeing this film, i went out and bought the script to the show, which is also funny to read. I just hope that their other shows like the bible and all the great books are soon to be released like their original classic!
I had seen bits and pieces of this before, mainly done by
competitors in speech and debate tournaments. I found the script
funny, but there was always something lacking in the competitors.
When my mom, aunt, and I had the opportunity to see the entire original play in London, I discovered why! Not only was it the obvious; professional actors who actually knew what they were doing, but intense physical comedy. The combination of slapstick galore, eloquent Shakespearean verse, modern twists for humor, and cheap cheesy props made this THE funniest play I have ever seen, and believe me, that's a strong compliment; I'm an avid theatre goer and find many things funny, but this is the creme de la creme! After an hour and a half of non-stop diaphragmatic convulsing over absurd Shakespeare, the show was over and we returned to our hotels, groups, and individual tour. Several of the occurrences always stuck with me; and though this is not uncommon for me, I would think of something that happened in the show that would get me laughing hysterically out of nowhere. A short while after my mother and I returned home, I discovered through the Reduced Shakespeare Company's website that the video was available and jumped for joy! At Christmas, one of my many wonderful gifts happened to be this video! As we see, it stars Adam Long, one of the 3 writers of the show, who continues to perform it in London last I knew, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor. All three hilarious in their own ways. Although this is definitely better seen live, as most shows are, I have not met a single person who didn't laugh hysterically at SOME point while watching the video. This is one of my favorite videos in my collection, right up there with my Monty Python shrine! On a semi-related note, anyone interested may want to check out the actual script to "The Complete Works. . ." It's available through the Reduced Shakespeare Company's website, and I'm sure through certain booksellers, or Amazon, or even a public library somewhere. The script is mostly what is on the video, but contains many hilarious footnotes, pictures, and several introductions that are definitely worth it! 10 stars!
Do you know that it is possible to see all 37 plays of the playwright
who is considered by many as the greatest ever lived in the show that
is under two hours? I did not - until yesterday when I saw The "Reduced
Shakespeare Company - The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
(Abridged)" slapstick show that actually compresses all bard's plays in
the 90 minutes of wild ride and pure hilarity. Three members of The
Reduced Shakespeare Company Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor
act, comment, sing, and not only entertain their theatric audiences but
also make them participate in the most hilarious production of "Hamlet"
I ever seen. If you never read or seen any stage or screen adaptations
of a Shakespeare's play, you still will enjoy the show thanks to the
great timing, perfect communication among three performers, and
unorthodox but always hysterical way to present each of the celebrated
works by the most revered author. As it was the case in the 16th
Century's theater, where the male actors play the female heroines, Adam
Long plays tragic characters Gertrude, Cleopatra, Juliet, and Ophelia
and he is incredibly funny yet strangely sympathetic as the unfortunate
ladies. Long, Tichenor who plays always serious scholar and Martin, the
clown, acrobat, musician and illusionist of the show all complete one
another beautifully. Adam Long and Reed Martin together wrote the
script to the show, and found some very original and enjoyable ideas on
how to present the plays, all 37 of them in such short period of time.
I liked Titus Andronicus Cooking Horror Show. I had a lot of fun
listening to and watching "Othello" as a rap song:
"Here's the story of a brother by the name of Othello. He liked white women, and he liked... green... Jell-O. Hey, yeah! And a punk named Iago, made himself a menace because He didn't like Othello, the moor of Venice!"
I absolutely adore the idea of condensing all 17 the comedies in one long sentence that was made up of all the titles to leave more times for the tragedies (because I agree with Adam, Reed, and Austin that Shakespeare's tragedies are funnier).
After enjoying so much "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)", I am ready for the others Reduced Shakespeare Company's projects, "The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)", "The Complete History of America (abridged)", "Western Civilization: The Complete Musical (abridged)", "All The Great Books (abridged)" , and "Completely Hollywood (abridged)".
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