Could you imagine what would become of the classic Meg Ryan/Billy Crystal movie, if the leading man were played by Clint Eastwood? You would get When Dirty Harry Met Sally. On Sunday night at Maryland Ensemble Theatre (MET) in Frederick, a trio of gifted actors gave us a memorable evening of Hollywood mash-ups and some spot-on caricature performances.
Completely Hollywood (Abridged) is a 2005 play written by company members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, in the same vein as their popular hit, The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged). The play focuses on three of MET’s company members, Jack Evans, Matt Lee, and James McGarvey. The trio of actor/ comedians are particularly adept at playing off of each other and the audience in this perfectly paced evening of Hollywood entertainment. There are references to over 190 Hollywood films in the show, and while some of the script is a bit heavy with clichéd Hollywood references (“I’m king of the world!”), the heart of the piece is in the actors’ performances and interaction with the audience. The fourth wall separating the audience comes crashing down before the show even starts and each of the three spend time with the audience. McGarvey, in particular, is very likeable and has the most interaction with the audience. The troupe also does a very good job of keeping the show current with some local references as well as some current movies.
Evans is particularly good when doing famous impersonations and Lee is wonderful as the “ingénue.’ In a show such as this, improvisation is key to a successful evening. And all three actors do that task perfectly. In the second act, there is a surprise guest star (I don’t want to spoil it here, but it is a hoot!), and the actors play off the guest so well that the audience was roaring with laughter the entire time.
Director Gené Fouché does a fabulous job of tying the evening together with great visual jokes and uses Set Designer Joann Lee’s simple set effectively. I also applaud her timing and getting the pace of the show to flow as if the cast is making the show up as the go along. The unsung hero in this show, though is Props Designer Milee McDonald. McDonald does a great job of assembling the variety of items needed to go along with this “mockbuster”.
The entire evening was a fun loving spoof of Hollywood in the same spirit as Forbidden Broadway and can be enjoyed by everyone. Even if you haven’t seen all of the 190 plus films referenced, you can still laugh along and enjoy MET’s perfectly hilarious season opener.
Running time: Two hours and five minutes, with a fifteen minute intermission.
Completely Hollywood (Abridged) plays through September 29, 2013 at Maryland Ensemble Theatre–31 West Patrick Street, in Frederick, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 694-4744, or purchase them online.