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SHAKESPEARE AT THE GALLOP (article first published : 2004-01-26)

The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) is 97 minutes of hilarious mayhem as three of Durbanís hottest actors - Steven Stead, Neil Coppen and Michael Gritten Ė return to the Catalina Theatre to play havoc with literary history in February.

Themi Venturas again produces a fabulous cast in the acclaimed Reduced Shakespeare Companyís delicious rollicking comedy, The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged). Directed by Peter Court, this outrageous, quirky, high-energy comedy romp has been playing to packed houses and critical acclaim in London and New York (and most recently in Durban) for years.

It gallops through the complete works of Shakespeare in a way never seen before and in a manner Shakespeare himself would not think imaginable. A mix of pratfalls, puns, willful misreadings, clunky female impersonations, clean-cut ribaldry, and broad burlesque make it impossible to resist. It combines the distinctive left-field nonsense-type humour of Monty Python, with some fun visual gags, hectic physicality and echoes of original Shakespearen text. Tights and cod-pieces never looked like this before!

Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, the full works of Shakespeare have been edited into manageable morsels of comedy. Audiences will be forced to throw out every preconceived notion of Shakespeare and strap themselves into their seats for a ride they'll not forget.

The three actors chosen for the Durban season all have impeccable credentials: Steven Stead appeared in Run to Ground and performed the title role in Venturasís Hamlet; Neil Coppen was Hamlet in the Actors Co-Opís acclaimed version, and Michael was Anthony in Anthony and Cleopatra. All three are award-winning actors and have experience in physical theatre and comedy.

Ben Brantley, The New York Times describes the work as embodying ďone of comedy's most essential impulses: the adolescent urge to take a baseball bat to the culturally revered. The gung-ho vitality is impossible to resist. The conversion of the histories into a football game is very funny. So is a rap version of Othello. Hamlet truly soars and allows the actors to come into their own as manic clowns. At its giddiest, its tone recalls the fabled Bullwinkle cartoon shows."

The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) runs from February 4 to 29. Bookings or more information from the Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6889.




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