Nobody does Shakespeare better than the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Shakespeare is the gold standard of theater. So the Royal Shakespeare Company's new, abridged version of "Hamlet" should be the creme de la creme.

Nobody does Shakespeare better than the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Shakespeare is the gold standard of theater. So the Royal Shakespeare Company's new, abridged version of "Hamlet" should be the creme de la creme.

It's rare to encounter the words "new" and "Shakespeare" in the same sentence. The Royal Shakespeare Company, based in the playwright's hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon, has condensed the Bard's longest play - it has 4,042 lines and can run four-and-a-half hours long - into a 70-minute version that's aimed at kids and other audience members with short attention spans.

Rather than an over-the-hill actor portraying the title role - the case with some productions of "Hamlet" - in this show Dharmesh Patel plays a youthful Hamlet, which frankly makes it a lot more believable that his mother is still living.

This new condensed version of the play holds all the key elements that theatergoers have learned to expect, with the exception of a skull. (Apparently, there's no skull.)

Young Prince Hamlet is in mourning after the death of his father, the King of Denmark. To make matters worse, Hamlet's mother has married Claudius, the man Hamlet suspects killed the king. After a ghost tells Hamlet that his suspicions are correct, the prince must decide whether to seek revenge.

All of the tickets for the company's free performances have been reserved, but there will be a limited number of seats available at the door for those who arrive 90 minutes before the performances.