The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is currently the longest running comedy in London’s West End. It has been performed all over the world and translated into 17 languages. This audio program, originally commissioned by the BBC and broadcast on the World Service, contains highlights from the stage show as well as new material specially written for radio.

Did Romeo and Juliet have premarital sex? Did Hamlet have an edible complex (as documented by numerous food references in the play)? The Reduced Shakespeare Company asks this and more. This tape, originally produced for the BBC, will find a devoted audience among PDQ Bach fans. Despite all the bells and whistles, three American actors have an uncanny knack for picking out the crucial words in each play. Favourite Shakespeare, partially reliant on a poll conducted by Classic FM magazine, is extremely well abridged. The editors contend that the best way to understand Shakespeare is through his people. Beginning with the seven ages of man, these tapes do the delicate job of uniting the bard’s men and women into one tragicomic whole. Six actors and actresses read from the plays, while interspersed sonnets offer more personal views of the writer’s thoughts and theories. These are well narrated, with extremely cogent commentary by John Brunning. Neither of these tapes should be allowed near an academic library, but both will hopefully find homes in public, if antipodal, audio collections.?Rochelle Ratner, formerly with “Soho Weekly News,” New York


The Condensed History Of Big Ben: Bong! [2009]

The Great Clock of the Palace of Westminster is celebrating 150 years of almost continuous time telling. To mark the occasion Adam Long, co-founder of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and his two friends Simon Jermond and Giles Terera, take a whirlwind musical tour of all things Ben.

It is a story of arduous neo-Gothic design, bells that kept cracking and the invention of something called a double three-legged gravity escapement mechanism.