ESSENTIAL VIEWING

The Reduced Shakespeare Company offers the condensed version of human events with History Ain't What It Used to Be: The Complete Millennium Musical

That may or may not change as the performance schedule continues. St. Louis is only the most recent stop for Millennium Musical, which was workshopped at the American Stage Festival in New Hampshire and ... Alaska! "The University of Alaska in Homer offered a space," Martin says, which the RSC used for several weeks. "We cut and changed it every night and talked to the audience after the show." Though the show has already toured the U.S. — as well as played the European ground zero of comedy, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival — RSC pays close attention to how audiences react to the jokes. After the show played the Kennedy Center, they traveled to the Fringe and found that, although British audiences embraced the work, "inevitably we find about two dozen references where we say, "Hmmm.'" For the most part, however, RSC material, be it biblical or postmodern, travels very well. "American TV and movies are so prevalent, and the British get most of the references. The British like to see something silly done in an extremely serious manner, and Americans like to see you do something silly with the slightest hint of a twinkle in your eye. It's a slight attitude change."

The Reduced Shakespeare Company performs History Ain't What It Used to Be: The Millennium Musical at 8 p.m. Sept. 24 and 25 at the Edison Theatre, on the Washington University campus, Forsyth and Skinker. Tickets are $25; call 965-6543.

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