This fun and fast production attempts to abridge the complete works of Shakespeare into the space of an hour. Whilst its premise is strong, this production does not sufficiently exploit its huge comic potential.
This comic abridgement feels rather tame and uninspired given the source of its inspiration.
The main problem with the show is that it lacks energy and excitement. Despite the incredible quantity and quality of material it works with, jokes often feel laboriously drawn out. A rather long and only mildly amusing introduction is entirely unnecessary, whilst repeated false endings become self-indulgent, requiring the audience to applaud a few too many times. Although at points the actors are able to inject their show with vibrancy, the overall performance feels oddly slow given the pace with which the actors moved through the text.
There are, however, moments of brilliance. The reimagining of Titus Andronicus as a cooking show is a particular highlight, as is the narration of the development of the history plays in the style of a sports commentary. Physical theatre sequences are mostly very slick and the stylised fight scenes are both visually arresting and wonderfully silly. The production is at its cleverest when it reappropriates Shakespearean humour, taking tropes such as the sword as a phallic object and creating new jokes.
This comic abridgement feels rather tame and uninspired given the source of its inspiration. Obviously a lot of Shakespeare is lost in a reduction such as this, but the production needs to retain more of the intensity, humour and magic of its source in order to succeed as a piece of theatre.