Irreverent romp with the Bard

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), by the Reduced Shakespeare Company @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), by the Reduced Shakespeare Company @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

By JOHN LAWSON

Titus Andronicus as a cooking programme, Othello as a rap song, 154 sonnets condensed on to a postcard.

The RSC's irreverent roller-coaster ride through all 37 of the Bard's plays in just 97 minutes is fast adopting a sort of cult status.

Even theatre officials were surprised that the opening night was a sell-out.

This is a riotous production which leaves you aching as the baseball-booted three-man team – Americans Eduardo Enrikez and Walter Lewis and Canadian Tim Beckmann – treat Shakespeare with a total lack of respect.

Most Read

They get the comedies out of the way pretty quickly – “after all, the tragedies are so much funnier” – and dismiss the histories in a single

game of American football.

Then they cut “to get right to the sex and killing”, notably Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.After jumping in and out of a frock in the former, Enrikez protests that he's fed up with the wig, so the team recruit a girl from the audience to play the role of Ophelia and a little lad to represent her ego. And the rest of the audience don't escape – yelling lines with gusto in the build-up to our Ophelia's big finish.

For an encore, they perform the play again at double speed – and then backwards.

The RSC asserts that if the Bard were alive today, he would not only approve of their interpretations of his plays, but would also go bowling with them after the show.

On this evidence, I think they might be right.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter