2011 may be looking pretty Shakespeare-heavy for me in general but March and April are Bard-free zones. Until things really kick into gear with the Globe reopening, here's a show whose set design is a visual reference to that theatre's stage. Rather unusually, a comedy show particularly associated with its original writer-performers (the American Reduced Shakespeare Company, whose production ran for years in the West End,) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) gets a small-scale revival at the Old Red Lion's new second venue, creatively named the New Red Lion¹. The three-actor revue does what it says on the tin - actually the majority of Shakespeare's plays are despatched with in the first half, the second being entirely given over to Hamlet complete with audience participation (different sections of the audience being different sections of Ophelia's psyche.)
The company (also directing themselves) are James McNicholas, Owen Roberts and Lucy Woolliscroft; their particular spin on the piece is to make a virtue of the fact that they're recent drama school graduates putting on their own show on a shoestring. So the programme is cribbed together out of Wikipedia articles and repeatedly mis-spells Woolliscroft's name. The idea that they're all hoping to be "spotted" is also a running gag, with their bios mainly consisting of outrageous "additional skills" claims, and one table rather optimistically reserved in the hope that Kevin Spacey might turn up. It's a funny show and they're all talented comic actors; Wooliscroft's repeated screams every time one of her characters dies (it's Shakespeare, so it's often) must leave her with a pretty sore throat. And I was slightly distracted by how much Roberts looks like my friend Evil Alex. Except with a full beard instead of a goatee. So more the Zod style of evil facial hair than the Ming option Alex prefers. Anyway, this is a fun night out.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield is booking until the 8th of May at the New Red Lion.
¹in a drastic break with the parent venue's policy, the new venue appears to actually have enough seats for the audience to sit on