Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh '08 arrow The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
Published on Thursday, 20 August 2009

It is a dangerous thing to attempt to recreate a show that was a spectacular success first time around. From its humble Fringe beginnings, The Complete Works (abridged) toured the world and made a huge impact - showcasing the energy and enthusiasm of the three performers, who went on to the scale the heights with their reduced versions of the Bible, and many others. It now seems the script is up for grabs; here three young women have picked up on this classic production, bringing the reduced Shakespeare experience back to Edinburgh.

It's no mean feat that these spunky, enthusiastic girls manage to pull it off. The show is still as vibrant and exciting as it was originally, down in part to the relentless enthusiasm of the three performers - although perhaps understandably, they never really achieve the heights of the original show. However, for a semi-professional attempt on the piece, the production is slick and energetic, the script has been re-worked to fit the fully female cast, and it is still a riotous barrel of fun to watch Shakespeare shrunk down to so small a size.

While the transition is a broad success, the main problem I see is the scripted nature of the piece. The Complete Works (abridged) was so inspiring, on first viewing, due to its verve and energy, and seemingly improvised speed. To have it re-portrayed damages the magic a little, and dents the illusion that this production was as off-the-cuff as it was originally. The originally sparky and exciting gags are a little tired, and their originality has been lost; what originally wowed is now a touch hackneyed.

However, what raises the production out of the quagmire of re-attempting a classic is the bombastic performance. The three women on stage are all incredibly bouncy and energetic, and make the production come to life beautifully. Each of them portrays a character within a host of characters excellently, and their interaction with each other and the audience is cleverly constructed and very warm and friendly.

It seems a little strange to critique this production so heavily on re-doing a show, since most theatre is the re-attempting of someone else's writing; but this is almost like seeing a different stand-up perform someone else's set. It was such an iconic production that repeating it will always be difficult. So, all credit to these girls for a great effort; this is almost as vibrant and clever as the original, it just isn't the original.

<< 3 Thrayaa   Dan March - Goldrunner >>


These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2008.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

Current reviews >>

Edinburgh 2013

Coming to the Fringe this year?  We can help you make the most of your time.  Learn about Edinburgh's summer Festivals and plan your visit around the city's major events. 

Find out more >>

Top Reviews

[ A-Z ] [ Recent ] [ Best ]