Written by Adam Long, Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor
Director: Matt Rippy
Reviewer: Marie Kenny
I’ve never read the Bible, I have no intention of reading it, but I do love stories.
I especially like stories with a moral and according to the Reduced Shakespeare Company, the Bible is ‘The greatest story ever accepted as fact’. Playing to a sold out audience at the brand new Floral Pavillion, last night I finally got to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company, something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time.
‘The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)’ sees three performers reduce the Bible down to less than two hours. The show has been touring the UK since January this year, but was created in 1997 and even ran for two years in the West End. Back in 1997 it was considered controversial, but it takes a lot more to shock audiences these days. In all honestly, for even the most hardcore God loving population, there’s very little to find offensive in this tongue-in-cheek comedy.
From Adam and Eve in fig leaves, the Old Testament is swiftly covered through high energy sketches in the first act and then the New Testament equally swiftly in the second act. The show is filled with non-stop humour, character changes, singing and even a bit of dancing too. They’ve given it a modern spin with references to Deal or No Deal and the potential risks involved in going on a night out with Steven Gerrard.
With Noah’s Ark quickly brushed aside in the first act, William Meredith brings it back in the second act with his replica ark which is ‘accidentally’ destroyed by Simon Cole. Called up in pairs members of the audience are given an animal and an action for the song ‘Old man Noah had an ark’. With the threat of a super-soaker hanging over them, the rest of the audience joined in too. Borderline pantomime, but they just about get away with it.
Unsurprisingly then, this is a flawless, polished, finely tuned act, delivered by three extremely talented all-round performers. These guys work hard, they are rarely off stage and if they are, they’ll probably be doing a God-like voice over or doing a super-slick costume change in a matter of seconds. It’s so polished that even Jack Bennett’s improvised ‘mistakes’ are perfect and really not improvised at all.
They do their research and make parts of the show relevant to the town they are in, a personal touch which went down well at the Floral. After making a hasty retreat at the end, they appear in the foyer to thank the audience individually as they leave. It was nice to see the theatre buzz with such a witty, clever, thoroughly entertaining show. A joy to watch, I hope they’ll be back soon.