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EZ Viewing V!

This coming weekend my wife Steph and I are throwing our fifth annual EZ Viewing movie marathon.  This has become a yearly tradition for us, in sort-of celebration of my birthday.  (I was inspired by the idea of aintitcoolnews webmaster Harry Knowles’ annual 24-hour Butt-Numb-A-Thon, about which I’ve been reading for years.)  During EZ Viewing V this year, we’ll be screening four movies and one short film, using a projector to create a “big screen” effect.  (Click here for info on EZ Viewing IV and here for info on EZ Viewing III.)

Here’s this year’s selection:

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Tropic Thunder

Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog

Airplane!

Why those five selections?  Keep checking back here every day this week for my thoughts on each one of those films!

We’ll start today with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

We’ll be showing a recording, on DVD, of the famous stage show presented by the RSC.  Not the Royal Shakespeare Company, but the REDUCED Shakespeare Company.  Three men: Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor, take viewers on a lunatic, madcap exploration of the Bard’s works, as they compress every single Shakespeare play into an hour and a half.  The show is, in a word, hysterical.

The play was written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield and was first performed back in 1987.  I discovered the RSC in college, when my friend Mike Strode lent me his audio cassettes of the RSC’s six-part BBC radio show (that contained the majority of the material from the play, as well as a lot of additional skits, digressions, and other silliness).  I was hooked immediately, listening and re-listening to those tapes over and over again.  I was thrilled when I found this DVD recording of one of their performances of the play.  For those of you who have never seen it, you are in for quite a treat!

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is incredibly literate but also incredibly accessible.  All three men are wonderfully elastic performers, hurling themselves across the stage as the show bounces from one gag to the next.  There are so many highlights: the performance of Macbeth in “authentic” Scottish accents, the backwards performance of Hamlet, the summary of Othello as a rap song… I could go on and on.  This is genius-level humor.

(Click here for my thoughts on the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s latest stage play: The Complete World of Sports (Abridged)!)

I’ll be back here tomorrow with my thoughts on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  See you there!… [continued]

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The Reduced Shakespeare Company Presents: The Complete World of Sports (Abridged)!

October 4th, 2010

I was delighted to have had a chance, last week, to see the new Reduced Shakespeare Company play, The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre.  This run of performances was the East Coast premiere of this new show, and it was a blast!

The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s first play, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) was first performed back in 1987 — although the company’s origin really begins with Daniel Singer’s 25-minute version of Hamlet from 1981.  In 1994, Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor created a six-part radio show for the BBC called The Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show.  Somehow, when I was in college, I got ahold of casette tapes of those six half-hour broadcasts, which is when I fell in love with the RSC.

In the ’90s, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor began expanding the RSC’s repertoire by penning a series of new plays: The Complete History of America (Abridged), The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged), and more.  I had the pleasure of seeing their performance of Completely Hollywood (Abridged) at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre a few years ago, and so when I read about their launching of a new play, The Complete World of Sports (Abridged), I eagerly snapped up some tickets.

While I’m not sure that any of these subsequent plays can really rival The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), I am happy to report that this new sports-themed show is quite a hoot.  In an hour and a half, the three-man troupe attempts to present before the audience the complete history of every sport known to mankind.

From what I’ve read, the RSC has different troupes that travel and perform their shows.  I was thilled that in the performance I saw, both Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor appeared.  Having listened to those radio show tapes many, many times, I know their voices quite well so it was a lot of fun to get to see them perform in person.  The third member of the ensemble was Matt Rippy, and he was great too — easily holding his own along with Reed and Austin.  The three had an extraordinary fluidity in their interactions — my favorite parts of the show were when all three actors were on stage bouncing off of one another.  A sharp script helps, of course, but it was exciting to see three actors who could be so quick and naturalistic with one another when interacting on-stage.  Particularly when things went awry — in the performance I saw it seems that Austin was having a spot of trouble with his lines, which led to some good fun at his expense when Reed … [continued]