THE Reduced Shakespeare Company’s website informs us they have been ‘reducing expectations since 1981’.
In fact expectations have been getting higher and higher, and their show is the longest running comedy in the West End, offering all of the Bard’s 37 plays in 97 minutes.
The result is a tour de force of comedy performed at a breakneck speed and with consummate skill.
It’s very, very funny and very, very clever.
The trio of actors play countless roles - at one point in Hamlet one of them runs on wearing bits of costume for three different roles. “I’m poisoned, I’m stabbed, I’m pregnant. Oh, I’m confused,”
he says before keeling over.
Hamlet is a highlight. They do that one several times, each time quicker than the last. Then they get carried away in their delight at it, and perform it backwards: “Yorick! Poor! Alas!”.
And it’s a measure of the skill of these performers and their love for the material that they can induce a rapt silence for Hamlet’s soliloquy even amid all the hilarity.
This isn’t a show where you get the odd laugh, it’s a show where you start laughing at the start and leave the theatre still laughing and quoting the best bits.
They tell you the show is “not recommended for scholars and/or people inclined to motion sickness”, but on this performance it’s a show that should be recommended to all.