Reduced Shakespeare Accused of BlasphemyDate: 28 March 1998
The Reduced Shakespeare Company may be facing a rare prosecution of blasphemy for its latest production The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). The play, which enjoyed a successful season in the West End and has toured the American Bible belt without incident, is now on national tour.
It is due to run at the Gateway Theatre in Chester from 22-27 June but local Pastor David Carson, of Chester's Zion Tabernacle, is trying to stop it. He has teamed up with Essex solicitor Tony Bennett to prove that the play has contravened common law regarding blasphemous libel. They are awaiting word on whether a prosecution would be possible. Carson has called the play a 'complete mockery of the word of God' and Bennett says that it undermines the Bible.
The Reduced Shakespeare Company has applied to the Bible the same irreverent approach which has proved such a success with earlier works - The Complete History of America (Abridged) and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) which is now the longest running comedy in the West End.
The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) covers fig leaves to final judgement in a mere 100 minutes. The very liberal and modern interpretation sees Jesus Christ portrayed as a Teletubby and includes Tiger Woods and the Spice Girls. The play's programme warns that it is not 'for people with heart ailments, back problems, theology degrees, inner ear disorders and / or people inclined to motion sickness'.