MERIDIAN, MS—Squeezing all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays into 97 minutes of mirthful mayhem, The Reduced Shakespeare Company is performing “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised]” at the MSU Riley Center on Thursday, May 30, at 7:30 p.m.
The actors – all three of them – know the plays backward and forward. In fact, at one point, they actually perform a play backward. They also mix in hip-hop, cross-dressing, football, lots of slapstick comedy and plenty of audience participation.
“Interacting with the audience, as was done in Shakespeare’s time, is really important to our shows,” said the company’s Reed Martin, who also contributed material to the script and co-directed with Austin Tichenor. Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield were the main writers – along with Shakespeare himself, of course.
The actors understand why modern audiences might find the original plays baffling. “We were supposed to read ‘Hamlet’ in my junior English class, and it made absolutely no sense to me,” Martin said.
So the company satirizes Shakespeare, but with great affection. The result will have both lovers and haters of the Bard laughing. After all, it was the playwright himself who said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
Tickets are $39 and $33 at the MSU Riley Center Box Office, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets can be purchased online at www.msurileycenter.com or by phone at 601-696-2200.