Friday, April 16, 2010

Reduced Shakespeare Company

I'm a fan of Shakespeare, which I know doesn't really set me apart from most people. Some people hate Shakespeare, which I don't really understand, but most people can usually get into something Shakespearean; whether it's reading Hamlet to watching Romeo and Juliet with Leo or simply getting into Then Things I Hate About You when it comes on TBS. If you've been through any type of schooling, you probably have read some Shakespeare in English class. Or at least Sparknoted some Shakespeare for English class. Maybe you were required to memorize a sonnet; I know I was.

But I wish that when I was studying Shakespeare in English class when I was younger we had gone to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Reduced Shakespeare is a comedy troop that performs all 37 plays in 97 minutes.

I know, I know, it sounds impossible. But they do it, and it's hysterical. Reduced Shakespeare hits upon some weird area of humor that had the entire theater I was in laughing. First of all, they were taking long, wordy plays (sorry, Will) and making them short and funny. They began with an introduction then Romeo and Juliet which took up 12 minutes. Then the show moved on to Titus Andronicus which became a morbid, Silence of the Lambs type cooking show. They condensed all the comedies into one play and did the histories as a crown-passing football game. And they turned Othello into a rap. I won't even say what they did with Hamlet. You're going to have to go check out one of their performances for yourself. But it involved audience participation, so everyone watching got to become part of the show too.

Secondly, the play was funny because they didn't just utilize one type of humor. There was Abbot and Costello type humor, Monty Python type humor, bathroom humor, sexual humor and smart humor. When you think about it, Shakespeare used many different humor tactics in his plays; from the intelligent puns and dramatic irony to the sexual innuendos that the groundlings would understand. So, really, Reduced Shakespeare was just mimicking the master's style in an updated way--Reduced Shakespeare talked about Eric Massa (the ex-Congressman who discussed tickle fights with staff members on an interview with Glenn Beck); they quoted Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies." They were all-around freaking hilarious performers.

Their website is here and click here to watch the Othello rap. Try to check them out if they're in your area! And a word of advice: if you're gonna go, spend the extra few dollars to get seats up close. I was in the third row and felt that I would miss some of their facial expressions/have trouble seeing if something was on the floor if I had been sitting further back.

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