Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I laughed until I snorted

Last night ARG and I went to the San Jose Rep to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company perform All the Great Books (Abridged). If you've never seen or heard of RSC, you should check the links above or the rest of this post might not make sense to you.

You can get the The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) DVD at your local library - I highly recommend it. And no, you don't need to know a lot about the Bard to hurt your knees watching it (from slapping them so hard while you laugh!).

At the show last night, as we found our seats and settled in before the show, ARG turned to me and said, "I feel like I need a seatbelt." We were very excited.

The schtick premise of All the Great Books is a remedial Western Lit. class in high school. The audience are the students, led by a PE coach, a drama teacher (who has his A.A. in dramatic theatre!) and a...well, a young, politically correct idiot. The show began with about eighty hard-cover books being thrown onto the stage from stage left all at once.

For two hours they mocked about 80 classics, from The Odyssey to Green Eggs and Ham. The jokes were so fast and furious that we were laughing until we cried. And yes, I snorted ONCE, before I got myself under control. The two words that embody the essense of this show are: jocularity and ribald. There were several jokes that (I'm hoping!) went right over ARG's head. It is definitely aimed at older audiences.

Some favorite moments:

- After condemning the other characters for being racist for wanting to say the N word while they dramatized Huck Finn, the PC guy says, "Stop characterizing people by the color of their skin!" Turning to the audience he complains, "Man, all white people do that!"

- When the actors lost their place and ad libbed for about 3 minutes - that's live theatre folks - and it was just as funny and more exciting than the rest of the show.

- They brought a guy from the front row on stage to play the Female Author Dating Game. Jane Austen and George Elliot (pen name for Mary Ann Evans) were asked intelligent literary questions. Emily Bronte (played by the poor sap from the audience) was asked, "If I were a banana, how would you peel me?"

- A character from War and Peace introducing himself as Ivan (cough, cough) Nastikov (get it?)

We never wanted it to end. It was nonstop giggles for two hours. I wish I could remember and share more jokes, but there were SO MANY. There's no way my feeble brain can retain all that.

Probably more important than all the laughs and entertainment was the special Mommy/ARG time we had. I am hardly ever alone with my almost 12 year old man/boy. (BTW - we measured him today - he's 5'10"!!!). So that was sweet.

This photo caused great controversy in my family, but I'm including it anyways. It's ARG and the actors after the show - they were so nice!


ciara said...

sue-sounds like a good time. i would love to see something like that. stinky and i were sposed to see shakespeare in the park in livermore, but my girls came home early from their dad's. not sure if our kids would like stuff like this...maybe my oldest daughter (11), but my youngest (9) lives in la la land so she wouldn't be paying attention too long LOL

Sue said...

Believe it or not, I took my kids to see Hamlet when they were 7 & 10. I though we'd leave during intermission and they INSISTED on staying for the 2nd act. You might be surprised at how live theatre can grab kids' attention.

Also, check out Shakespeare in the Park - don't know where you are in the Bay Area, but they are playing soon in San Mateo and then in SF.