The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” (abridged) (revised) features men in tights and Chuck Taylors.
The three-member acting troupe will perform parts of Shakespeare’s 37 plays in 97 minutes beginning at 8 p.m., March 8, at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center.
The group started as a “pass-the-hat” act at Renaissance Fairs in Northern and Southern California, where the entertainment slots are limited to 30 minutes.
“Those audiences like things fast, physical and funny,” actor Michael Faulkner said in a telephone interview.
They started with a 20-minute “Hamlet” and followed up with “ Romeo and Juliet.”
“And then we figured how hard could the other 35 plays be?” Faulkner said.
Yes, he acknowledged, it is an impossible task.
“All of our shows are about setting impossible tasks and that way, we’re making as much fun of ourselves as we are of the material, which is why everyone can enjoy the show,” he said,
Whether you love Shakespeare, or hate Shakespeare, you will get something out of the show.
“We like to say that if you like Shakespeare you’ll like the show, if you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love the show,” Faulkner said.
The play was originally written in 1987 and premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was revised in 2007 to mark the 20th anniversary.
Certain things help the actors keep up the pace. For example, Yorick’s skull is rubber, so it can bounce. There is also sword play, some involving actual swords.
“You get the highlights and the lowlights,” Faulkner said. “People like things fast and funny, so we figured cut out all the poetry, get right to the sex and the killing.”
He said they are doing a PG-13 version of the show. The plays are performed chronologically with some diversions.
“When Richard III is covered in a pile of bodies in a football game, we say he’s buried under a parking lot in Leicester,” Faulkner said.
He gets to play Hamlet in the show.
“That, to me, is a joy,” Faulkner said.
He encourages people to check out The Reduced Shakespeare Company online at http://www.reducedshakespeare.com. Then there is the weekly RSC podcast, which has been going on for about 10 years.
Tickets cost $29 for orchestra and $24 for balcony.
For details visit www.lpac.org, or call 661-723-5950.