The Reduced Shakespeare Company – A Poetic Review

by Maria Rodriguez

“Toupee, or not toupee?” asks the Prince of Demark (Austin Tichenor) in the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged), at Folger Theatre, April 21 – May 8, 2016. Photo by Teresa Wood.

“Toupee, or not toupee?” asks the Prince of Demark (Austin Tichenor) in the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged), at Folger Theatre, April 21 – May 8, 2016. Photo by Teresa Wood.

No other stage could be filled with such glee
As one with the Reduced Shakespeare Company!
This band of brothers to the Folger said
A long lost first play was found from, now dead,
William Shakespeare, who as a youth,
Penned a manuscript of such length – uncouth –
In a story complex, so twisted, and trying
Could anyone watch this the play before crying?
In fact, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor wrote it,
But on stage they seek to try and not show it.
Those two cast members are joined by another
Teddy Spencer, who plays lots of females – oh brother!
They have power, such intense stage command,
The trio makes for a marvelous band.

The audience, quite learnéd, got all the jokes
This is a play for the scholars, but also for folks,
Who don’t laugh at “ursus, enter pursued
By”, it’s meant to make Shakespeare one cool dude.
Spencer, Tichenor, and Martin create
A show that’s so funny, and get this, it’s great,
That they add in some humor, for the local crowd,
It was moments like that when it really got loud,
With cheers and applause, lots of giggling too,
And outright guffaws – oh gosh who knew –
That Freshman year Romeo, and Richard the third,
Would return in such a manner, which spurred,
The writing of a review poetic
(intended not to be an emetic).

Trying – the clowns – to make sense of this plot,
With cuts and explanations (oh it’s a lot!),
A war betxixt Ariel and Puck the sprite
Transpires all through a mid-springtime’s night.
Fair Beatrice, Iago, and Hamlet mix
With Juliet, who just wants a kiss,
From Dromio? Viola? ‘swounds! These twins
Are everywhere! And you know who has fins?
Ariel?!?! Well, the point that they’re making
Just that Disney was quite fond of taking
Stories from Shakespeare, which just goes to prove
How timeless he is, so let none remove
The bard from England’s pantheon lit’ry
But instead you should celebrate his quartercenten’ry!

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