Monday, September 22, 2008


Reduced Shakespeare Company at the Civic Theatre


Those quickfire iconoclasts from the Reduced Shakespeare Company have turned their attention to the Good Book for this UK tour, taking us from Genesis to Revelation in an hour and a half.

The script has been considerably rewritten since I last saw it, with references to Lakeside, Facebook and that other scripture plunderer, Andrew Lloyd Webber. There were lots of local jokes too, targeting Melbourne, Dukes and Great Leighs racecourse.

In sandals and biblical robes, the three energetic comedians kept us amused with a constant stream of good-natured sacrilege, directed by RSC veteran Matt Rippy.

William Meredith, the serious one obsessed with the Ark, Jack Bennett, who got to play most of the distaff side, and Simon Cole, the “adopted theatrical Englishman”, who got some of the biggest laughs with his easy rapport with the audience.

I enjoyed his songs, too, such as Begotten, delivered like a less musical Lehrer. Other highlights were the Before and After Babel sketch, the commandments that didn't make the top ten, the slo-mo Goliath, Revelation the Musical, and the unforgettable audience participation Noah's Ark.

The literate and witty script did require some basic Biblical knowledge, and raised some big theological questions. Why is God like Batman ? Can you tell Elijah from Elishah ? The show even provoked heated discussions in the bar at half time. And that's more than most clergymen can claim.

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