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  • The Reduced Shakespeare Company - The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [VHS]
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The Reduced Shakespeare Company - The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [VHS]

188 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • VHS Release Date: July 10, 2001
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005LB8B
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,118 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Ah, Shakespeare. The great bard. You've heard he's a terrific writer. One of these days, you may actually get around to catching one of his plays. Yeah, right. Well, with the help of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, not only can you catch all of Shakespeare's plays at once, but you can have a riotous good time doing so.

Three men performing 37 plays in less than two hours may seem a bit of a stretch. But Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor--all members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company--pull it off beautifully with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a slapstick show that summarizes the playwright's stage work (with the sonnets thrown in). Never read Titus Andronicus? No problem; it's presented here as a cooking show. Can't keep your Shakespearean histories straight? Visualize them as a football game. Wondering what exactly is the deal with that guy Othello? Hear his story as a rap song. Hard as it is to imagine, this video of the stage show (originally seen on PBS) is one of the funniest, most clever productions around. Long is hysterical in his roles of Juliet and Ophelia (among others), bringing a hip, edgy feel to the plays while remaining surprisingly true to the stories. Martin and Tichenor will amaze with their acrobatic movements and frequent costume changes, and the three together are a marvel of timing and rhythm. Best of all, whether you know Shakespeare inside out or have yet to read a word of him, The Complete Works will have you in stitches. --Jenny Brown

From the Back Cover

Life is short. The complete works of Shakespeare are long. To the rescue: THE REDUCED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY, the three-man comedy troupe known for fast, funny, physical condensations of real serious stuff. They wrap up the Bard's outsized oeuvre in 90 roller-coaster, rib-tickling minutes. After warming up with a nothing-is-sacred send-up of Romeo and Juliet, they're off, dispensing with the comedies in one fell swoop (because the tragedies are funnier). You decide after you see Othello as a rap song, Titus Andronicus as a cooking program, and the show's unforgettable finale - Hamlet - told with the help of audience members and lascivious sock puppets. Contains material not seen on the PBS broadcast. "Intellectual vaudeville" - The New York Times. "Inspired American spoof merchants...slings and arrows of outrageous comedy" - Daily Telegraph. "This trio of modern Marx brothers will leave you in stitches" - Boston Herald.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 92 people found the following review helpful By F. Behrens HALL OF FAME on June 18, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
When the Reduced Shakespeare Company performs <The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)>, it is a case of three apparently indefatigable actors (Adam Long, Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor) whirlwinding through the plays, some of which are barely mentioned, some of which are treated at greater length--all in 90 minutes. Well, the Good News is that the show is now available from Acorn Media on a VHS. (Note: this video contains material not shown on PBS.)
To cut to the chase, you really have to know your Bard to get all the jokes. Treating "Titus Andronicus" as a cooking class works if you are familiar enough with the plot (the recent movie might help here); and unless you know your English kings from Richard II to Richard III (with all the Henrys in the middle), the football game with a crown as ball will have little meaning. ( I thought the line about cutting Henry VI into three parts was the best in this sketch.)
Possibly the bit that calls for the audience's greatest degree of knowledge and concentration is the resume of a plot that combines all the Shakespearean comedies into a single play (with a very long title). There are plenty of in-jokes and bad puns throughout Act I to demand your fullest attention--and again, few of them work if you do not know the originals.
The first act ends with a little situation in which one of the troupe refuses to do "Hamlet" and flees from the theater. When Act II begins, he has not been brought back and the remaining actor must fill the time with Monty Python-like bad routines. Once back on track, the audience is enlisted to help one of their number (I assume she is not a plant) "feel" the part of Ophelia.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Blake Petit VINE VOICE on November 7, 2003
Format: DVD
I was introduced to the Reduced Shakespeare Company when I was cast in a production of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged]" in college. The play was the funniest thing I'd ever done -- I pulled a muscle when I first read the script simply from laughing too hard -- and I've been a huge fan of theirs ever since.
Finally, their premiere production is available on DVD! This video of a production starring Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor and Adam Long is as funny as the script was the first time I read it. I was unusual, after having been in the play myself, to see how some of the originators actually envisioned the scenes, as well as how the scenes had evolved in the years since the play was first published -- the Titus Andronicus cooking show, for instance, went from a cross-dressing gag to an Emeril parody. It was still hysterically funny.
The DVD also has a surprising amount of special features, including a video of the complete "Romeo and Juliet" segment from the first ever production of the show, starring Adam Long, Jess Winfield and Daniel Singer. (It's also interesting to note how THAT scene evolved from the first production until the date of publication.)
If you're an RSC fan, this is a great DVD. If you've never seen one of their shows before, watch this DVD -- you'll become a fan.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Evangeline on May 20, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
For maximum enjoyment, you should know Hamlet because it takes up half of the production. Also, the jokes are best if you have a pretty solid knowledge of Mr. Shakespeare. Even so, the video is appealing in a Three Stooges kind of way even if you have no idea about this guy Shakespeare. The fact that all of the comedies are covered in one fell swoop is a funny (and accurate) commentary in itself. The best part is that Shakespeare is seen as F-U-N for all ages. ***Caution- As with every video, preview before showing to your classes. There are a few curse words and other touchy material. Othello's *ahem* manhood is alluded to in a ...stereotypical way and the Titus Andronicus cooking show, while humorous, does rely on a bit of black humor. I find the majority of this video to be best suited to English majors and 12th-grade students.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By S. Berner VINE VOICE on May 7, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The material, the actors, the show, are all hilarious from beginning to end. This SHOULD have been a DVD to treasure in its entirety... BUT. In adapting the piece to the TV screen, the director (Paul Kafno, I name names!) has gone berserk! Incessantly cutting to the audience reacting to the jokes, instead of allowing US to react; cutting to close-ups when it is vital to the joke that we see the full stage; a positive genius for having the camera in the wrong place at the wrong time; and at least half a dozen (based on audience reaction) jokes we don't get to see because the camera is showing the afore-mentioned reactions; all serve to undercut what could have been a perfect gem
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Barnes on March 20, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
My Shakespeare class is made up of high school juniors and seniors who beg for more each time I show them a segment from this video! They appreciate the rip-roaring humor these three gentlemen pump into Shakespeare's works. As their teacher, I enjoy watching them delight in the Bard. Some may feel this video is trite, but the fact remains that real enjoyment can only be had if one is familiar with the work. Watching this video has enticed my students to actually want to read the plays!
This is a teachers must-have tool if you're doing Shakespeare.
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