Adam Long:Alright, we're going to go through Hamlet again very quickly. But before we do, I just want to say a quick warning. Okay, we're going to be moving very quickly this time, and there are falls that we take, there are props that we send flying back and forth across the stage, and I know we make it look easy, but it's very difficult. Remember, we are trained professionals.
Adam Long, Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor:Do not try this at home!
Adam Long:Yeah, go over to a friend's house. It's much safer...
Marc Anthony:Meanwhile, Julius Caesar was a much beloved tyrant.
Romans:All hail Julius Caesar!
Marc Anthony:Who was warned by a sooth-sayer...
Sooth-Sayer:Beware the Ides of March!
Marc Anthony:...But Caesar ignored the warning.
Julius Caesar:What the hell are the Ides of March?
Sooth Sayer:Well, that's the fifteenth of March.
Julius Caesar:Why, that's today!
[Marc Anthony and the Sooth Sayer stab Caesar repeatedly]
[trying to perform the "to be or not to be" soliloquy]
Austin Tichenor:[quietly]Shut up.
Austin Tichenor:[a little louder]Shut up!
Austin Tichenor:[pulling out his sword]What part of "shut up" don't you understand?
Reed Martin:Take the time now to locate the exit nearest your seat.
[makes gestures a la an airplane flight attendant pointing out the exits]
Reed Martin:If the room should experience a sudden change in pressure, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. Place the mask over your mouth and nose and continue to breathe normally. If you're here with a small child, please place your own mask on first, and let the little bugger fend for himself.
The Reduced Shakespeare Company:Cut the crap, Hamlet! My biological clock is ticking, and I want babies NOW!
Austin Tichenor:Antony and Cleopatra is not some Alka-Seltzer commercial! It's a romantic thriller about a geo-political power struggle between Egypt and Rome.
Adam Long:[looks at audience]Oh yeah, like you knew, you were all laughing.
Adam Long:I'm sorry, I apologize, I apologize, you know. If I had known this was Shakespeare's geo-political play, I wouldn't have screwed around with it, because my favorite plays are his geo-political plays.
Austin Tichenor:Really, really?
Adam Long:No, seriously, they're intense, man. Like, um, what was that one he wrote about nuclear energy in the former Soviet Union?
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor:No, no...
Adam Long:It was way ahead of its time. It was a metaphor... wrapped in an allegory.
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor:[shakes heads]No...
Adam Long:It was intense, man. It was called "Chernobyl Kinsmen," and it was all about this...
Reed Martin:[interrupts]Adam, Adam, Shakespeare wrote a play called
[holding up two fingers]
Reed Martin:"Two Noble Kinsmen."
Austin Tichenor:Not "Chernobyl Kinsmen."
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor:[holding up two fingers]"Two Noble Kinsmen."
Adam Long:It was "cher."
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor:It was "two."
Adam Long:Cher, cher, cher...
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor:[simultaneously]Two, two, two...
Adam Long:Cher, cher... what's "Two Noble Kinsmen?"
Austin Tichenor:"Two Noble Kinsmen" is about a girl who goes insane with the fear that her boyfriend is going to be eaten by wolves and her father hanged.
Adam Long:[pause]And is Boris Yeltsin in it?
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor:NO!
Reed Martin:When it came to comedy, Shakespeare was a genius at borrowing and adapting plot devices from different theatrical traditions.
Austin Tichenor:These influences include the Roman plays of Plautus and Terence, Ovid's "Metamorphoses" - which are hysterically funny.
Austin Tichenor:As well as the rich Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte.
Adam Long:Yeah, basically Shakespeare stole every comedy he ever wrote.
Austin Tichenor:Oh, no, no. "Stole" is a little strong; "distilled", maybe.
Adam Long:Yeah, okay, well he "distilled" the three or four funniest comic gimmicks of his time and then he milked them into sixteen plays.
Reed Martin:Yeah. You see, basically Shakespeare was a formula writer. Once he found a device that worked, he used it
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor, Adam Long:Over and over and over again.
Reed Martin:So, Mr. Shakespeare, the question we have is this...
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor, Adam Long:Why did you write sixteen comedies when you could have written just one?
Austin Tichenor:Well, in answer to this question, we of the Reduced Shakespeare Company have taken the liberty of condensing all sixteen of Shakespeare's comedies into a single play, which we have entitled "The Comedy of Two Well-Measured Gentlemen Lost in the Merry Wives of Venice on a Midsummer's Twelfth Night in Winter".
Reed Martin:"Cymbeline Taming Pericles the Merchant In the Tempest of Love As Much As You Like It For Nothing".
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor, Adam Long:"Four Weddings and a Transvestite".
[audience laughter; the stage lights go down, then after a moment they come back up]
Reed Martin:Ahem. Act I. A Spanish duke swears an oath of celibacy and turns the rule of his kingdom over to his sadistic and tyrannical twin brother. He learns some fantastical feats of magic and sets sail for the golden age of Greece, along with his daughters - three beautiful and virginal sets of identical twins. While rounding the hill of Italy, the duke's ship is caught in a terrible tempest, which, in its fury, casts the duke upon a desert island, along with the loveliest and most virginal of his daughters, who stumbles into a cave, where she is molested by a creature who is either a man or fish or both.
Adam Long:Act II. The long lost sons of the duke's brother - also, coincidentally, three sets of identical twins - have just arrived in Italy. Though still possessed of an inner nobility, they are ragged, destitute, penniless, flea-infested shadows of the men they once were, and in the utmost extremity are forced to borrow money from an old Jew who deceives them into putting down their brains as collateral on the loan. Now, the six brothers fall in love with six Italian sisters, three of whom are contentious, sharp-tongued little shrews, while the other three are submissive, airheaded little bimbos.
Austin Tichenor:Act III. The ship wrecked, the identical daughters of the duke wash up on the shores of Italy, disguise themselves as men, become pages to the shrews and matchmakers to the duke's brother's sons. They lead all the lovers into a nearby forest, where, on a midsummer's night, a bunch of mischievous fairies squeeze the aphroditic juice of a hermaphroditic flower into the shrews' eyes, causing them to fall in love with their own pages, who, in turn, have fallen in love with the duke's brother's sons, while the queen of the fairies seduces a jackass, and they all have an orgy.
Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor, Adam Long:Act IV.
Reed Martin:The elderly fathers of the Italian sisters, finding their daughters missing, dispatch messages to the pages to kill any man in the vicinity.
Adam Long:However, unable to find men in the forest, the faithful messengers, in a final misguided act of loyalty, deliver the messages to each other and kill themselves.
Austin Tichenor:Meanwhile, the fish creature and the duke arrive in the forest disguised as Russians, and, for no apparent reason, perform a two-man underwater version of "Uncle Vanya".
Reed Martin, Adam Long, Austin Tichenor:Act V.
Reed Martin:The duke commands the fairies to right their wrongs.
Adam Long:The pages and the bimbos get into a knock-down, drag-out fight in the mud...
Austin Tichenor:During which the pages' clothes get ripped off, revealing female genitalia.
Reed Martin:The duke recognizes his daughters.
Adam Long:The duke's brother's sons recognize their uncle.
Austin Tichenor:One of the shrews is elected Senator from New York.
Reed Martin:And they all get married and go out to dinner.
Adam Long:Except for a minor character in the second act who gets eaten by a bear, and the duke's brother's sons, who, unable to pay back the old Jew, give themselves lobotomies.
Reed Martin, Adam Long, Austin Tichenor:And they all live happily ever after.
[Reed is explaining why they can't perform "Othello", which was written for a black actor]
Reed Martin:You might say we're... racially challenged.
[Adam has mistaken the definition of moor]
Reed Martin:We left Adam on his own to research this play. Apparently, he looked up "moor" in the dictionary and thought it was where you tie up boats.
Adam Long:That's what it told me it is, man!
Austin Tichenor:Which, in the course of this context is completely ridiculous, because, you see, in the 16th Century, the word moor referred to a black person.
[Adam looks at both of them]
Adam Long:I feel like such a dork.
Austin Tichenor:Yeah, well, go with the feeling.
Adam Long:I've got an idea that's totally boat-less. Maybe if we just get a rhythm going, you know, like...
Adam Long:Here's the story of a brother by the name of Othello. He liked white women, and he liked... green... Jell-O.
Austin Tichenor:Hey, yeah! And a punk named Iago, made himself a menace because
Adam Long, Austin Tichenor:he didn't like Othello, the moor of Venice!
MacDuff:Ach, see you, Jimmy! And know that MacDuff was from his mother's womb untimely ripped - what do ye think aboot that, lad?
MacBeth:Ech! That's bloody disgustin'!
[the confrontation between Romeo and Tybalt]
Tybalt Capulet:Romeo! The love I bear thee can afford no better term than this: thou art a villain! Therefore turn and draw!
Romeo Montague:But Tybalt, I have not harmed thee, but love thee better than thou canst devise!
Tybalt Capulet:Oh, wretched boy, I am for you! OH, I AM SLAIN!
[Tybalt takes a bow and storms offstage. Confused, Romeo and the Narrator ramble through the text to figure out where they are]
the Narrator:...Moving right along...
[Hamlet really REALLY fast]
Hamlet:It is I, Omelette the Cheese Danish!
Austin Tichenor:And now, I'd like to help set the scene a little bit for what is quite possibly the greatest play ever written in the history of the English language... HAMLET! Prince of Denmark! The place... Denmark! The time... A very long time ago! Two guards on the battlements of the Castle Elsinore meet...
[Exits... Waits for the guards to go onstage]
Guard:[whining backstage]I don't wanna do this stupid play!
Polonius:My Lord, Act Two!
Juliet:What's in a name, anyway? That which we call a nose by any other name could still smell.
Claudius, Hamlet:Oh no! It's Laertes!
Claudius:Son of Polonius!
Hamlet:Brother to Ophelia!
Claudius:And a snappy dresser!
Father Laurence:Take of this vial and drink, and soon shalt thou feel a cold and drowsy humor running through thy veins.
[Juliet drinks from the vial]
Juliet:Oh, I feel a cold and drowsy humor running through my veins, Obi-Wan.
Father Laurence:Told you so.
Juliet:Gak! Cough! Gasp!
[Juliet proceeds to vomit over various audience members]
Ophelia:AAAAAHHHHHHH! I'm mad! I'm out of my tiny little mind! I'm screwy-louie, I'm...
[points to girl in audience who played Ophelia in the last scene]
Ophelia:see, this is acting.
[during the audience-participation sequence]
Reed Martin:Alright, very good, excellent... Hey, you, third one in... What's your deal? Everybody's doing great; "MAYBE, MAYBE NOT! MAYBE, MAYBE NOT!" Here's him.
[Reed slumps like a propped up corpse]
Adam Long:"Does not play well with other children."
Reed Martin:You know what that means, don't you Bob? That means you have to do it...
The Reduced Shakespeare Company:All by yourself!
Austin Tichenor:They're laughing at me!
Adam Long:No, no. They're laughing WITH you.
Austin Tichenor:[pointing to an audience member]No, that guy, right there, was laughing AT me!
[Adam doesn't want to take part in "Hamlet"]
Reed Martin:The play is called "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare".
Adam Long:Then we'll change the name. We'll call it "The Complete Works of Shakespeare Except Hamlet".
Reed Martin:Adam, that's ridiculous!
[after finishing an act of Romeo & Juliet]
Austin Tichenor:And so much for Act I.
Austin Tichenor:It wasn't that good.
[Adam is fighting doing Hamlet, and has stolen an audience member's purse]
Reed, Austin:Adam! Give that back!
[Both rip the bag out of his hand]
Adam Long:What? Is it wrong to take somebody's bag now?
Adam Long:I can't do anything right with you two! Why don't you just take away my birthday!
Adam Long:I'll hit you so hard, I'll kill your whole family.
Adam Long:I'll do it. I swear to god I'll kill the cameraman.
Austin Tichenor:I don't care! We have five other cameramen; I don't care!
Adam Long:I just don't think i could do justice to it...
Austin Tichenor:What are you talking about... we don't have to do justice to it... I mean, where have you been? We just have to do it!
the Narrator:From Tybalt's death onward, the lovers are cursed, despite the best efforts of Friar and Nurse. Their fate pursues them, they can't seem to duck it...
[Austin realizes where the text is headed, and improvises]
the Narrator:... And at the end of Act Five, they both kick the bucket!
Juliet:[singing the "Lone Ranger" theme song]Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steed and bring him cloudy night immediately! Come night! Come civil night! Come him thou Romeo day and night! Come gentle night! Come loving, black-browed night! Oh, night, night, night, night, night! Come, come, come, come, come!
Juliet:I didn't write it!
Austin Tichenor:[reading off names of plays from the program]"Coriolanus"...
Adam Long:Oh, just, let's just skip it.
Reed Martin:Why, what... what's the matter with "Coriolanus"?
Adam Long:[pause]I don't like the anus part.
[laughter from audience]
Adam Long:I just think... no, I think it's offensive, and we have some young children.
[points to Boy in Audience]
Austin Tichenor:Yeah, you know, that's fine.
Adam Long:It's not a clever word, kid, I don't...
Boy in Audience:I'm 13!
Adam Long:I don't care if you're 20, I don't want to hear you using language like that, young man.
[points to Woman next to him]
Adam Long:Is this your mommy?
[grins, laughter from audience]
Adam Long:[to Boy]Don't give me the evil eye! Now I know why some animals eat their young. You know, I swear to God.
Austin Tichenor:Adam, Adam, just... you know, relax...
[whispers in Adam's ear]
Austin Tichenor:I think, I think that kid could kick your ass, so just leave him alone.
Boy in Audience:[nods enthusiastically]
Titus Andronicus:And how're we feeling today?
Lavinia:Nah tho good, I gah mah tongue chopped out.
Titus Andronicus:I know, it's a pisser, ain't it?
Hamlet:[holding Yorick's skull]This skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once, but then came the NUTRISYSTEM WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM!
Adam Long:Shakespeare didn't write Hamlet, did he?
Adam Long:It's a Mel Gibson movie!
Austin Tichenor:Yeah, but it's based on the play.
Austin Tichenor:In fact I discussed "Troilus and Cressida" at some length in my soon to be released book about Shakespeare, entitled "I Love My Willie." Which um... which I'd like to whip out for you now if I could.
[sticks hand in pants]
Reed Martin:Uh, Austin...
Austin Tichenor:What? What?
Adam Long:[to child in audience]Don't look kid, don't look.
Adam Long:She showed a lot of heart, a lot of courage - as Shakespeare would say, 'chutzpah.'
Reed Martin:I hope no-one was too offended by Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare as a young writer seems to have gone through a brief Quentin Tarantino phase...
Gertrude:Oh no! I am poisoned!
[Gertrude proceeds to vomit over various audience members]
Cleopatra:Is this an asp I see before me? Oh no!
[Cleopatra proceeds to vomit over various audience members]
Ophelia:Oh... Feeling a little nauseous...
[Ophelia proceeds to vomit over various audience members]
Benvolio, Samson:Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. And from forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life. Ugh! Whose misadventures piteous o'er throws, do, with their death, bury their parents strife. Thank you very much.
Laertes:Hamlet comes back; What shall I...
Ophelia:Wait, Reed, before you go on, what's the next scene with Ophelia?
Laertes:There are no more scenes with Ophelia.
Ophelia:No, man, I'm up for it.
Laertes:There aren't any. That's all Shakespeare wrote.
Ophelia:Well what happens to her?
[Ophelia runs offstage]
Laertes:I'll anoint my sword with such an...
[Ophelia runs back onstage with a cup of water]
Ophelia:Here I go!
[Ophelia splashes the water in her face]
[Ophelia collapses, dies, gets up, takes a bow, and runs offstage]
Juliet:Oh, my brain!
[Adam, as Cleopatra, has begun "vomiting" on people]
Reed Martin:You've got this really bizarre notion that all of Shakespeare's tragic heroines wear these really ugly wigs, and vomit on people before they die!
Adam Long:It's an interpretation!
MacBeth:Ach, that's de-great! And MacWhat MacNeed MacI MacFearrrrrrrr of MacDuff?
Adam Long:It's a metaphor... wrapped in an allegory.
Marc Anthony:Friends, Romans, countrymen! Lend me your rears! We come to bury Caesar. So let's bury him, and get onto my play, Antony and...
Cleopatra:[comes on stage with a wig and toy snake]Cleopatra!
Austin Tichenor:I was thinking what we could do is a quick, sort of improvised version of Troilus and Cressida based on this chapter.
Reed Martin:Yeah we could do an interpretive dance, performance art version!
Adam Long:Performance art, I love performance art it's so... pretentious! We could do a piece that uses the text of Troilus and Cressida as like a jumping-off point to explore deeper themes, you know, like the transient nature of life and the mythology involved in the arising and dissipation of forms.
Reed Martin:Yeah, get some props!