Shakespeare September- Day 7: The Reduced Shakespeare Company

We’re entering week 2 of #ShakespeareSeptember, and this week’s theme is…

Adaptations

Specifically, I’m looking at recent adaptations of Shakespeare into different forms: be they musicals, plays, or retelling.

And today I’m discussing possibly my favourite adaptation not just of a Shakespeare play, but all of them: The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare (Abridged).

If you’re not familiar with their format: it’s Shakespeare, but reduced! And if you still don’t get it, here’s their version of Julius Caesar:

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In addition to Kiss Me Kate, one of the other first shows I saw when I was younger was the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare (Abridged). And no, my parents weren’t trying to indoctrinate me into loving Shakespeare. They don’t even like him that much!

The premise is simple: 3 guys, all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, in 90 minutes. Impossible, right? Wrong! By traversing the Tragedies, combing through the Comedies and some-sort-of-verb-starting-with-H the Histories, they cover the entire milieu of Shakespeare. And if you’ve never seen a play by Shakespeare before, don’t worry! One of the actors is, well, less versed in Shakespeare too. He hasn’t quite done the homework.

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And that’s one of the great strengths of this company: it’s making Shakespeare accessible for everyone through comedy. Going through each of the shows, it puts them into a familiar format, be it song, interpretative dance or a cookery show in the case of Titus Andronicus. As a child, going to see it I had read maybe 4-5 Shakespeare plays, all Comedies and Tragedies. But it introduced me to the Histories, and in a unique way: an American football match!

Great writing, great chemistry and accessible for everyone, this adaptation is a must see for any Shakespeare fan. Fortunately, there is a DVD of the show starring Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor. And as if you need any more convincing that you should watch it, here’s a little highlight from the show and possibly the best adaptation of Othello. Forget the National’s version, forget the RSC’s one this year. Here’s our RSC’s Othello: the rap!

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