In anticipation of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s upcoming UK tour of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised), their sensational show that fits all 37 plays into 97 minutes and still holds the title of longest-running comedy in the West End, we spoke with one of the company’s stars, Matt Rippy. Matt forms part of the irreverent team that has spawned, among others, reduced comedy versions of The Ring Cycle, The Bible and All the Great Books, and he lets us know what we can look forward to from the company this year.
L360: Hi Matt! How long have you been with the Reduced Shakespeare Company?
Matt: I joined in 1995. As a matter of fact, I began with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) in the West End and have been touring and playing with the Reduced Shakespeare Company all over the world ever since!
L360: We’ve noticed that the show has had ‘(revised)’ added to it…
Matt: We realised that the play has been knocking around for a long time, and in various forms it’s evolved and developed over the years. For its 30th anniversary, the original writers decided to put their heads together and see if they wanted to update it. We spent the year touring and playing with variations and we’re going to be showing an updated, slightly different revised version on this tour. You could just say that it’s the same old jokes recycled, but we like to think that it’s NEW and IMPROVED!
L360: What are your favourite bits in the show to perform?
Matt: I tend to play all the women basically; who doesn’t love donning skirts and wigs?! Shakespeare’s all about the strong women! I love playing Juliet and Cecilia – both very complicated women. They tend to get so emotional that it brings on nausea and vomiting, and I like to think that I find a certain amount of depth in those two ladies.
L360: We heard that there’s going to be some new cast members on this tour – will veteran Reduced Shakespeare Company actors be around?
It’s a mix of both! We’ve got two people who are coming back. Me, who never left – I’ve been lingering like a fart in church – and Gary Fanning. Gary is one of my fellow comrades from the States who was with us in the West End for several years and did several tours with us. He decided that he missed having fun so he’s coming back to join us! We’ve got a couple of new folks that we’re very excited about (they already know the Reduced Shakespeare Company style). I like to think of it as a return to form for the Reduced Shakespeare Company!
L360: What’s next for the Reduced Shakespeare Company?
We’re happy to turn anything that’s big, long and boring into short, sharp comedies. I’ll tease you with this: we’re going to be producing a new show this fall and premiering it towards the end of the year, but I can’t tell you what it is yet! It’ll be our ninth stage show, so stay tuned to this Reduced channel!
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised) will be touring the UK from 5 April – 22 June. Full information and tour dates available on their website: http://www.reducedshakespeare.com/