LONDON For office workers who may have suffered an indigestible diet of compulsory Shakespeare at school, Lunchbox Theatre offers a perfect remedy -- bitesized chunks of the Bard.
An enterprising theatre company in the heart of London serves up instant culture -- Shakespeare classics condensed into 45-minute shows that can be enjoyed with a beer and a sandwich.
"Personally I remember Shakespeare being a bit of a chore at school," confessed theatre manager Lucy Hillard.
"A lot of people think -- Do I really want to sit through three hours of Shakespeare? But I would quite like to get a taste of it."
Lunchbox Theatre does just that in a rollicking rendition of "The Taming of The Shrew" with Petruchio taking three quarters of a deftly condensed hour to tame "The prettiest Kate in Christendom."
The Bridewell Institute's theatre, which boasts just 134 seats, is tucked down a little lane off Fleet Street, once the heart of the newspaper industry but now more the domain of bankers.
In they scurry for Bard at the Bridewell just five minutes before the start, hastily nibble a sandwich, enjoy a neatly manageable chunk of Shakespeare and then scuttle back to the office.
"It is like a little oasis in the city where people can actually get away from their desks, come and see a bit of theatre and go back feeling refreshed," Hillard told Reuters.
Pensioners, curious tourists and a sprinkling of school children join the office workers for five pounds' worth of instant Shakespeare.
First this year came "Macbeth" and then "Measure for Measure." After positive feedback from audiences, the season is now being extended with two more productions taking Lunchbox Theatre up to the summer holidays.
"Some proved easier than others to condense. 'Measure for Measure' and 'Macbeth' lent themselves to cutting. 'Much Ado About Nothing' proved more tricky," Hillard said.
She is delighted that today's schoolchildren have perhaps been served up a tastier and more manageable diet of Shakespeare than their parents ever were.
"The schools we have had in here were silent. I was quite amazed. They sat there for 45 minutes, saying not a word."