Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Reduced History

Years ago, when I was enjoying my annual participation in The Oregon Country Fair (No, I have never done any type of drugs there) I happened across a stage show that would later become quite famous. While standing in line for the bathroom (no kidding) I caught a portion of a show put on by The Reduced Shakespeare Company. I was completely hooked by the shorter and shorter (and sillier and sillier) versions of Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet being put on by the company. By the time they finished, they were doing each play in under a minute, and the results were hilarious. Imagine my surprise when I found an ad for this very same show being done in a major concert hall. It seems I wasn't the only one who liked thought Polonius' ultra-quick death scene was funny.

Once the Shakespeare show became a comedy staple, the company decided to try its hand at other types of shows. "Shakespeare" was followed by "Great Books," "the Bible," and even a Reduced Shakespeare Christmas. Of course, not all of these can be as good as the original, but many of them were still very funny indeed. Therefore, with some trepidation but also hope, M and I went to see The Complete History of America (Abridged). We found it to be an incredibly vaudevillian-style of show with lots of quick summarizing, stand-up jokes, water on the audience, and men in drag playing really ugly women. Some of it was pretty funny (anagrams of famous political names--- Spiro Agnew = Grow A Penis--- I guess you had to be there) and some of it was just sort of funny (a sketch about short men joining Washington's army because of a misunderstanding about "minute" men) but over all it was worth the trip. Next time, I want to see All the Great Books because I bet Jane Eyre done in one minute or less is a very strange thing.

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