The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 October, 2010, 12:00am

The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)
The Reduced Shakespeare Company
Drama Theatre, HK Academy for Performing Arts
Reviewed: Oct 22

The Reduced Shakespeare Company returned with two more productions that take an irreverent look at iconic institutions - the history of America and the Bible.

The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) follows the three-man troupe's - Dominic Conti, Jeff Marlow and Mick Orfe - usual formula of poking fun at the sillier aspects of their subject through a combination of physical slapstick and vaudeville patter.

The show doesn't work as well as the Shakespeare one, which drew more on the actual texts and had real wit as well as pratfalls. The Bible revolves more around the performers' personalities than the source material and much of the script is sixth-form level.

Subtlety is not the strong suit. Jokes range from hoary chestnuts ('Denial - it's not just a river in Egypt') to political jibes ('George W. Bush isn't an oxymoron.' 'No - he's just a moron.') Inserting some local Hong Kong jokes was well-meant but fell flat.

There was a nice touch when some verses from the Psalms were recited seriously, a reminder that there is more to the Bible than far-fetched stories or strings of begats.

However, lack of sophistication didn't stop the audience enjoying themselves and the show is clearly a hit with children as well as adults (or maybe that should be the other way round). The gags may be hit or miss but they come thick and fast, and there is no gainsaying the ferocious energy and professionalism of the performers.

The troupe deserves a special mention for the mercilessly funny way they rebuked a teenage audience member who was texting instead of watching the show. It's high time performers and audiences in Hong Kong stopped tolerating this kind of behaviour - hopefully this particular perpetrator won't be doing it again after having the Wrath of God (abridged) descend on her.