Birmingham & Touring
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S LONG LOST FIRST PLAY (ABRIDGED) Reed Mortin and Austin Tichenor
Reduced Shakespeare Company
Birmingham Rep, to 15 02, Touring (UK and US) to 28 05
Runs: 2h, one interval
BO: 0121 236 4455
Review Alexander Ray Edser, 14 02 17
Fresh, frolicking, fun
The Reduced Shakespeare Company has been around for some time, offering us its zany, witty, and rather erudite knock-abouts built upon Shakespeare’s writing.
This time round it is an amazing discovery of a manuscript buried in an obscure car part (once obscure) in Leicester. The MS turns out to be Shakespeare’s long lost first play; this RSC performance is abridged, bringing the performance to 2 hours from its original (I think) 40.
This really is mad-cap stuff. Played with lightning speed, much of the delight is from the greased lightning speed changes. There are a large number of characters since Will (it would seem) was trying out ideas that he would use (and re-use) later. Of particular delight is a gay Richard III (with and without deformity), three witches that somehow merge with Lear’s daughters, an on-going battle between Ariel and Puck, and the Egyptian Queen lost in a forest (along with everyone else.)
The trio of performers are strong, physically and vocally. Their hi-energy comedy has a warn charm about it, keeping the clowning fresh and open. The audience seem well in the know, too, appreciating the sharpness of invention.
Nevertheless, there is a slight creaking of the format; though mostly hidden by the trio’s considerable talents. If you’re up for a laugh, and particularly if you’ve not seen them before, give it a whirl.
Performers: Joseph Maudsley; Michael Pears, James Percey
Director: Austin Tichenor
Costume Supervisor: Denis Blatchford