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The Bard, no holds barred

March 27, 2003|Randy Lewis | Times Staff Writer

Just because he created one of the pillars of Western culture, a canon that's endured for four centuries, doesn't mean that Shakespeare can't take a joke. So members of the Royal Shakespeare Company came up with "The Shakespeare Revue," a musical comedy production that allows the Bard to mingle with Cole Porter, Monty Python, Stephen Sondheim and other 20th century wits.

Sending up the genius of Stratford-on-Avon is a time-honored tradition, probably even predating a song that turned up in "The Ziegfeld Follies of 1912" lamenting that "Bill Shakespeare never knew of ragtime in his days."

Christopher Luscombe, who created "The Shakespeare Revue" in 1993 with Malcolm McKee, told one interviewer that his five-actor troupe, in Malibu on Friday and in Irvine on April 4, is having fun with Shakespeare, "not making fun of him. We're poking fun at the Shakespeare industry and that includes the academics with their sometimes wild theories and/or trendy directors who 'reinterpret' the plays."

After hit runs on London's West End and Broadway, the show has been touring the world. Gear up not for a scholarly exploration of Shakespeare's wicked sense of humor, but a freewheeling evening of the Bard as delivered by stand-up comics (First Clown: "I've been having trouble with the Black Death." Second Clown: "Wilt thou leave my mother-in-law out of this?"), the Hamlet Death Count and other future classics.

*

`Shakespeare Revue'

Where: Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Cost: $35

Info: (310) 506-4522

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, UC Irvine

When: April 4, 8 p.m.

Cost: $32 and $38

Info: (949) 854-4646

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