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REVIEW: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) at The Brewhouse

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 04, 2014

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AS the lights dimmed at the start of The Complete Word of God (abridged), the voice of the man himself came over the tannoy to warn us to turn off our mobiles. You can pretty much guarantee an interesting show when that happens.

Just seconds later, the Reduced Shakespeare Company began their mammoth task – guiding the audience through the entirety of the Old and New Testaments in just two acts.

The feat began with an introductory song, before the trio on stage worked their way from the creation of woman – ‘the downfall of man’, as they frequently referred to it - to a show-stopping musical finale about Armageddon.

There were songs about apostles, jokes, magic tricks – ‘the miracles of Jesus’ – a wrestling match and a large amount of audience participation.

One brilliant scene saw one of the actors playing all of the apostles who ate at The Last Supper, by poking his head through holes in the painting. It was very funny indeed.

Needless to say, the show did not present the Bible in the most respectful manner.

But it was funny, and I for one left the Brewhouse with more knowledge of the good book than ever before.

It may have been irreverent, but it was also strangely educational.

The three actors who made up the company were all excellent. They were fast-paced and enthusiastic, and somehow managed to make this rather silly show seem incredibly slick.

Not all of the jokes were funny. There were some modern cultural references thrown in which just seemed to be playing lip service to the audience, and drew little but a polite laugh, but those were few and far between.

Also, though it may be a theme mentioned in the Bible, I didn’t appreciate the frequent casual sexism which was thrown in. It may have drawn a cheap laugh from the audience, but in a modern performance, I found it distasteful.

That aside, I enjoyed it a lot. It was gloriously irreverent towards the stories in the Bible, but managed to avoid casting aspersions on the Christian religion itself, which was clever.

It wasn’t the deepest analysis of the ‘word of God’, but it was very intelligent in the way it is done, and on top of everything else, it really was hilarious.

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