For those who feel the need to become better informed about the plays of William Shakespeare but aren’t sure they can devote the time - nor the intellectual capital - needed to do the Bard of Avon’s library justice, the Lyric Performing Arts Company has just the ticket.

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged” will be presented today through Sunday at the Howard Payne University Theatre behind the Davidson Music Complex. The show is described a highly improvised, comedic condensation of some three dozen of Shakespeare’s plays, boiled down into a presentation of less than two hours.

A critic on the “The Today Show” said that people who like Shakespeare will like this show, and people who hate Shakespeare will love it.

The three actors cast in the Brownwood production are Nick Ewen, who is also the director; and Chad Musgrove and Charlie Musgrove.

The play was written by members of London’s Reduced Shakespeare Company - notably Adam Long, Jess Winfield and Daniel Singer - and was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987. It later played at the Criterion Theatre in London, where it ran for 10 record-breaking years, according to the Reduced Shakespeare’s Web site. It has become one of the world’s most popular shows, playing frequently in a variety of languages. It is notable for holding the (self-proclaimed) world record for the shortest-ever performance of Hamlet, clocking in at 43 seconds.

According to the script, which is occasionally followed by improvising actors, the “fourth wall” is all but absent in the production, with performers speaking often to each other and members of the audience about the material. The show opens with a parody of “Romeo and Juliet,” follows with a take-off of “Titus Andronicus,” portrayed as a cooking show and continues with unorthodox renditions of “Othello” and all the rest.

A reviewer for the Los Angeles Times praised the show as “wildly funny,” and a critic from the Montreal Gazette wrote that it’s “the funniest show you are likely to see in your entire lifetime.”

Performances will begin Thursday and continue through Sunday. Evening shows will start at 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children, and they will be available at the door. Reservations may be made by calling 649-8516 or visiting online at