The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) opens

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.”

So said the Bard in his play As You Like it and the three actors performing the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) took this to heart – each one playing many parts indeed. 

On Wednesday night, the back garden of the Goulburn Club was transformed into a magical theatre space as the “Reduced Shakespeare Company” (who are actually are a part of the Lieder Theatre Company) performed parts from most of of Shakespeare’s 37 plays – “except for the really bad ones” – as one of the actors said. 

“Tonight’s performance is for anyone who was bored with Shakespeare from being forced to read him in school while looking out the window at others playing sport on the oval,” Blake Selmes said.

Taking this theme to heart, the actors, also including Martin Sanders and Ryan Paranthoine, brought Shakespeare to life in a very physical way – at one stage having the various kings and queens playing a game of football. 

“It’s Richard III taking the ball up, but King John has come in for a great tackle,” Martin Sanders narrated. 

“That should cover all of his plays right up to the Tudor period.” 

It reminded one of the type of humour in Monty Python or The Young Ones. 

The stamina of the actors in this piece is to be congratulated, considering they managed to reduce all of his 16 comedies to one hilarious piece called “The Bachelorette Goes to Verona.” 

Other standouts included snippets of Othello being performed as an Italian cooking show and Macbeth being performed with ridiculous Scottish accents.

After the interval, the actors devoted the rest of the night to Shakespeare’s greatest play – Hamlet. 

In rapid succession the most important bits of the play were covered.

To show their versatility, the actors then did an even quicker version version and they finally even performed it backwards. 

There was some great audience participation, with members of the crowd being invited on stage to scream at certain points as well as interject with ridiculous phrases such as “get thee to a nunnery.” 

Clocking in at just under 2 hours, with a 15-minute interval, this is play for all all members of the family. 

Indeed, parents should make a point of taking their children to it – just to prove to them that Shakespeare is indeed very funny and great entertainment. 

  • It continues Friday, Saturday and Wednesday at 7.30pm until April 28, with a 2pm matinee on Saturday, April 14.