Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

Sunday, 25 August, 2002

Student Rag Week appears to be permanently entrenched at The Criterion Theatre. The Reduced Shakespeare Company, (the alternative RSC) perform a collection of sketches that is sure to have the Bard turning in his grave. Shakespeare has never been lampooned with such disrespect before and no doubt never will be again. All his sonnets are reduced to eight lines, his comedies are condensed into one short sketch, and the tragedies are ridiculed unmercifully. Hamlet is abridged into a two-minute sketch that can even be performed backwards.

The three members of the company that were performing today were Kyle Dadd, Gary Fannin and Richard Lynson, three overgrown pranksters who appear to fully enjoy their descent into adolescence. The humour includes innuendoes, barfing and mindless banter. However, if this sounds like a description of a visit to theatrical hell, you would be mistaken. The three actors have an unassuming manner that allows them to relish in their unblushing lack of sophistication. Try as one may you cannot but help liking these guys and I defy anyone not to laugh with them and at them.

This certainly is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are willing to let down your inhibitions and have some fun at your own and Shakespeare’s expense then give it a go. You have nothing to lose but pretentious love of Shakespeare, any authentic love of the Barb will escape unscathed. If you have always wondered what Ophelia’s subconscious thought of Hamlet’s demand “Get thee to a Nunnery”, then get yourself down to the Criterion.

After 6 years at the Criterion I’m pleased to say this show has lost none of its vitality.

Alan Bird

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