Cut down books miss the mark

JOHN LAWSON The three-man team followed their usual format of slapstick, silly costumes and verbal gymnastics as they plundered their way through 89 of literature's finest works in just 105 minutes.

JOHN LAWSON

The three-man team followed their usual format of slapstick, silly costumes and verbal gymnastics as they plundered their way through 89 of literature's finest works in just 105 minutes.

We had everything from 1984 to The Three Musketeers, The Iliad and the Odyssey to The Origin of the Species and even Samuel Johnson's Dictionary - obviously the best book of all as it includes all the words of every other book put together.

There was a segue of Dickens and a tussle for supremacy between Jane Austen, George Elliot and Virginia Woolf.

But unlike their original and best, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), this medley of mayhem all too often fell short of the mark.

Writers Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor included contributions from upwards of 20 others in their script - a case of broth spoiling if ever there was one. While the one writer, one gag idea might work in a sketch show, it really doesn't help when you're trying to create an overall cohesive package.

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And while Shakespeare had true elements of every one of the Bard's great works, Books tended to rely on mentioning a title but never following it up with even a really telling one-liner.

It had its moments of course - The Wizard of Oz, Ulysses and Walden to name but three - and it was very slick as ever, but sadly it didn't really add to the “reduced” experience.

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