The Bible


The latest show to be staged by the Reduced Shakespeare Company in Dublin has (as might well be expected) a lyingly devious sub-title: the complete word of God (abridged). It is, of course, nothing of the sort. It is a panoply of often satirical, sometimes musical, occasionally knockabout and, too often, very old music hall sketches about what mankind has made of the best-selling book of all time.

It embraces audience involvement, not least with a rendition of Old McDonald had a farm to convey the epic of Noah's ark. It starts with a relatively tuneless In the Beginning Blues to cover Genesis and it ends with a top-hat-and-tails That's Armageddon (to the poorly-sung tune of That's Entertainment) to cover the Book of Revelations.

It is, undeniably, entertainment. But it has neither the intellectual incisiveness nor the physical and creative energy of the RSC's abridgement of Mr Shakespeare's works. This entertainment keeps pitching itself at too many different cultural markets and seems to be trying too hard to be too many things to too many different people. It does not so much reduce as elaborate what it selects from its chosen texts and its quality in both text and performance is unnervingly uneven.

It is, however, blissfully irreverent (not so much of religion as of its own performance and style) and, even if it is not consistent, it contains some very good jokes which are well worth spending less than two hours in a theatre to see or to hear.

Runs until Saturday March 21st.