IIM Ahmedabad’s theatre club IIMA Cultural and Theatrical Club (IIMACTS) staged “The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged” on Wednesday, 30 January 2013, at the Ravi J Matthai auditorium. The play was originally written and performed by an American theatre group called the Reduced Shakespeare Company. A humorous hotchpotch of all Shakespearean plays, the play is best described as ‘37 plays, 56 mins, 3 crazy actors, 1 dead playwright’.
The challenge of performing a spoof of this nature in front of an audience with little or no exposure to Shakespeare’s works was what inspired the club to stage the play. In 56 minutes, three actors delivered all of the bard’s works in an informal fashion. Starting off with Romeo and Juliet, they moved on to tackling other plays, some quite literally. All the histories were enacted in the form of a football game while Othello came in the form of a rap song. The comedies were one big agglomeration, delivered through a rapid string of lines. Macbeth was delivered in exaggerated Scottish accents and Hamlet was completely skipped on the pretext of one of the characters not wanting to perform. Throughout the play, the actors addressed each other by their real names and occasionally broke into spontaneous discussions about the script.
The cast often involved the audience in the play by running down to some of the members and also by directly addressing them throughout the play. The play ended with two of the three actors running through the audience as one of them chases the actor unwilling to perform Hamlet to bring him back in order to wrap up the complete works. The funny script, the seemingly spontaneous outbursts of the actors and the slapstick gave the play its hilarity ensuring that there was never a dull moment.