Review: ‘The Complete History of America (abridged) Special Election Edition! by The Reduced Shakespeare Company at Hylton Performing Arts Center

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Paul Revere may or may not have ridden through the countryside yelling, “The Redcoats are coming,” but given a quick horse and a heavily padded saddle, this reviewer is writing to announce, “The Reducers are comic.” This company brings a quick-pace and witty satire to all of their works. Written by Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor, and directed by the latter two, The Complete History of America (abridged) Special Election Edition, which we enjoyed last night, included groan-inducing jabs as the presidential candidates were portrayed in an audience Q&A.

Left to right: Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor.
Left to right: Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor.

The audience was kept involved in other ways than just providing candid questions to candidates. From the jovial heckling of late-comers and banter with them, to the multiple spritzes of water into the front rows, we were kept on our toes, as mental acuity was needed to keep up with the rapid fire continuous stream of jokes. There is a lot to cover in over 600 years of our nations’ highlights, but fortunately, the program reminds us that “any resemblance to historical fact is strictly coincidental.”

This production is targeting hysterical facts, and the three performers are aptly suited to provide them. Tichenor and Martin wrote nine of the Reduced Shakespeare Companies’ ten Complete (abridged) shows and have played in them around the US and in multiple countries. They and the third performer, Dan Saski, whose bio states that he has been helping RSC reduce expectations for years, are masters of physical comedy, quick-changes, and balloon animals.

The stamina of the actors is particularly impressive to me, considering that they were in Manassas last night, will perform in Hampton, Virginia tonight, then South Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida next week. Such a tour schedule is grueling but the actors appeared to be fresh and enjoying the performance.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reviewing Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), the show that put this company on the map. While it was great fun, I highly recommend seeing the writers and original performers of an RSC show if you ever get the chance, as I agree with the show’s description from the Boston Herald’s review, “What the Daily Show might be like if it were hosted by the Marx Brothers.”

Running Time: 90 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

The Complete History of America (abridged) Special Election Edition! was produced by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, performing for one-night-only on October 28, 2016 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center’s Merchant Hall – 10960 George Mason Circle, in Manassas, VA. For more information on The Reduced Shakespeare Company, go to their website. For future events at the Hylton Center, visit their calendar.

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