Review of 'The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged)'

The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged) by Jess Borgeson, Adam Long, and Daniel Singer

the_compleat_works_of_wllm_shkspr.jpg Or, more completely (!) “The Reduced Shakespeare Co. presents The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged)”, this book contains the script of the popular two act theatre show of the same name along with various (humorous) prefaces and appendices.

The first act begins with a brief adaption of Romeo and Juliet that surprisingly manages to capture the key elements of the play which is then followed by Titus Andronicus re-imagined as a cooking show, and Othello. The Shakespeare comedic plays are merged into a single montage then tragedies are next up for the RSC treatment. Sports are used to portray the various “King” plays. An intermission (with several comments from the actors on what it means to them) is followed by Act Two which pretty much focuses entirely on Hamlet. This tight, fast script is heavily footnoted with humorous asides.

An amusing, light-hearted read that pokes quite knowing fun at the works of William Shakespeare yet would still likely be amusing to readers not familiar with the bard's work. Written by three enthusiastic young actors who brought their brilliant idea to the stages of fringe theatre then eventually to London's West End to great acclaim. The book cannot completely convey the mania of the stage show but does give the reader a bit of a sense of it. It does get a bit tedious to read if you want to go through the footnotes at the same time (as they are often quite tangential and long) as it does slow down the pace of the play which is, understandably, quick both in timing but also whit. The humour sometimes goes slightly wide of the mark resulting in more of a slight smirk than a chuckle so in this case the lack of the slapstick staging greatly hinders.

A humorous read even for those unfamiliar with the stage show but for those with at least a passing knowledge of Shakespeare. This is not high-brow by any sense of the term but a fun, light-hearted read that manages to capture a good amount of the spirit of the riotous play.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-06-05

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Applause Theatre Books

Publication Date: 1994

ISBN: 1557831572